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The Importance of Data

This article looks at how Big Data is affecting Innovation

19Mar

I recently saw an article which featured a collection of quotes about the importance of data. From Tim Berners-Lee to prominent American politicians like Colin Powell, everybody seems to be excited about the scope of Big Data.

And so they should be, data has been central to many innovation initiatives over the last couple of years and has been influential to companies, politicians and sportsman.

Companies for example have used Big Data to build stronger customer relationships, and whilst this has been a significant breakthrough for them, reducing data’s influence to this would be to lessen its wider impact on society.

Its impact in sport innovation is well-known, helping both elite athletes and amateurs improve their game. We’ve seen Jean Pierre Meersseman, the founder of AC Milan’s renowned ‘Milan Lab’, use data to prolong the careers of players such as Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf. At the other end of the spectrum, wearable technology, through companies like ShotTracker, use data to drive gamification, something that helps kids retain the motivation to practice.

We’ve also seen data being used to create innovative platforms for disaster-relief and humanitarian causes. When Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines it left 4.9 million children in dire circumstances, with 1.5 million of them at severe risk of Global Acute Malnutrition. Crowdsourcing, a platform that uses data collected from text message alerts and Tweets (among other things) to plot events and dangerous areas, has been an important development. Crowdsourcing has helped emergency services better deal with tragedies such as Typhoon Haiyan, as well as the London riots and the Arab Spring.

Big Data has also affected a presidential campaign, with Barack Obama putting together a 100 strong analytical team to help win his second term back in 2012. It’s also been used to help endangered animals, by using data to track which environments are having a positive impact on their health.

As you can see, the impact of Big Data is far-reaching and is affecting many different spaces. It’s scope of influence goes far beyond the business world, with it being the foundation for innovative platforms in politics, humanitarianism and sport. As we move forward, it’s difficult to predict how influential Big Data will be, but at the moment, it’s definitely a central factor. 

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