Big Data and seniors? What do they have to do with each other — and what IS Big Data, anyway?
Actually, the business community’s passion for big data (depending who’s using the term it may be upper or lower case) and its analysis should mean seniors and their family caregivers will find products and services better tailored to individual needs (well, hopefully at least).
Ready or not, though, big data is here!
What is Big Data?
Big Data is commonly used to refer to the massive amount of data that’s created by and about much of what we do in our lives. There has always been data, of course, but the explosion of late has resulted in volumes so large to be impractical to analyze using traditional means. Thus big data.
Just what is this data and where does it originate? Some of this seems scary, but it’s reality. Big data comes from…
- Purchase transactions we make in stores or online
- Pretty much everything we do on social media sites, including our tweets, posts and pictures
- Video feeds from security cameras, traffic cams, etc (you think the NCIS folks are the only ones using it?)
- Searches we make on the web using Google, Bing and other search engines
- Healthcare data
- Videos we rent
- Much, much, much more!
How Big Data Can Be Used
Many people were introduced to the concept of big data (whether they realized it or not) by the popular book and movie Moneyball, about the then-innovative application of mountains of statistical data to the game of baseball. Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A’s, used data analysis to assemble a team of players that saw competitive success against teams with much larger payroll budgets.
Companies like Amazon and Netflix use data analysis to make recommendations to customers for future purposes. Well, few do it as well as those two though many aspire to do so.
Do you have loyalty cards for your local supermarkets and pharmacies? Notice how they seem to provide coupons or suggest specials based on what you purchase?
Ever notice how the ads you see on many websites you visit seem remarkably in line with your interests? That’s no coincidence. Many of those ad placements are done through Google, who uses data from your web searches and sites you visit to target your interests.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has many uses for big data analysis, such as tracking virus outbreaks and determining the strains of flu that each year’s flu vaccines should be designed to address.
Big Data Benefits for Seniors & Family Caregivers
It can be intimidating to think of all the data about us out there and how it can be used. While personal, little of this data is harmful to us in the way specific personal data can be used for ID theft. We have no control over the collection of a lot of the data but some of it we offer in exchange for benefits.
- When retailers give us discounts for using their loyalty cards they are essentially paying us to let them collect data on our purchases (though much can be tracked anyway for those using checks or credit cards).
- Search engines such as Google may use our data to target ads, but it’s those same ads that provide the revenue that makes their very useful search engines possible. How much less friendly would we find the web without them to help us find what we want?
- Our health is enhanced by the targeting the CDC and others are able to do by analyzing the massive amounts of healthcare data.
We are going to see much greater benefits from big data and more companies learn how make use of it in their product and service offerings. We hear so much about “seniors want this” or “seniors won’t use that” but in reality there is no generic “senior” but millions of men and women with individual needs.
Companies will be using data analysis to target specific needs and interests with products and services to make their offerings more attractive to individual buyers rather than one-size-fits-all. Why will they do this? One word — competition. An edge will go to those who are more effective at meeting customers’ wants and needs, putting a premium on the understanding of customers through the data that’s available.
Something to think about next time your hand you loyalty card to the cashier, visit a website or submit a post to Facebook or Twitter.