The world is a volatile place. The economy booms, it busts, wars are won, wars are lost, companies rise, and companies fall. The causes of these events are always subjective, and debate is always fierce as to how they could have been prevented and what the implications are. The one constant, however, is data. Data, when collected correctly, always has the truth contained within it, but it requires analytics to reveal it.
Having realized this, organizations both private and public are collecting all the data they can, and investing heavily to make sure they can use it positively benefit their organization. People are constantly confronted with data, either because it’s being collected or because it is being leveraged to impact upon their lives. It is now such an accepted part of day-to-day life, that many of the initial fears around invasion of privacy have been quashed, and people have a far greater awareness of the balance of benefits to sharing it.
However, there is still a substantial animosity towards data, much of which is driven by its association with the various agencies that use it. When governments search emails, it is not Big Data that people fear, it’s the government agencies who they fear will misuse it, and it seems that Big Data gets the flak. Perhaps oddly, it appears to be governments who attract more ire than corporations from the public for data collection, despite corporations having equally as much. This is an issue of both tangibility and transparency. Governments tend to collect data under the guise of benefiting national security, while someone like Apple does it to provide a more efficient service - a far more tangible benefit than most who feel no more or less secure as a result of the government having read their emails. It is also an issue of transparency. Governments cannot ask people to share their emails with them because those with things to hide will simply click no. The animosity it sparks should be a lesson to companies in how important it is to be transparent in how they collect data.
In this issue, we look at how the media is starting to portray data is a more positive light, with documentaries such as The Human Face of Big Data putting the practice in a more positive light. Ahead of the summer and festival season, we also look at how predictive modeling is helping to enhance the festival experience, as well as a number of other applications for data analytics, and best practices for utilizing them.