As technology continues to improve and organizations - both public and private - find more uses for big data, there's been more awareness in the media and the CIO community of the need for more analytics funding and manpower.
Everyone can benefit. The government can better serve the people, hospitals can better treat patients and retail corporations can put more cash in their registers. If more people place an emphasis on collecting information and ensuring data quality, everyone wins - except the laggards who refuse to accept the changing times.
In July, there were countless new intriguing developments in the world of analytics. Here's a look at five major ones.
More data in Washington
The federal government is hopeful that more budget dollars will go toward data analysis in the near future, but the sequester threatens to dash all funding for such initiatives, according to CIO.
"As far as the sequestration goes, probably 50 percent of projects have been affected," said Rich Campbell, chief technologist at EMC Federal. "Sequestration has definitely had an effect, but from my perspective, it's been somewhat beneficial."
Because public offices have adopted a "more with less" mindset, they're now prepared to sharpen their focus and use data only where it's most effective. First order of business will be trimming the federal budget, getting rid of unnecessary expenditures.
The healthcare data revolution
Forbes recently reported that big data can have a tremendous effect on the state of healthcare in the United States. Eventually, a few changes are expected.
First is making care more affordable. Rigorous data analysis can help firms uncover exactly how much each individual consumer can afford to pay. Next, there's patient safety - using analytics to analyze doctors' strategies for treating patients and lowering readmission rates. Finally companies must address the matter of legal compliance.
Once all these issues are sorted out, our health system will be in better hands.
Improving the supply chain
Retailers are no longer content to make decisions about marketing and selling products based solely on intuition. As Practical E-Commerce recently noted, corporations need more data to help them through the process.
Analytics can help in retail by improving product sourcing, making sure high-demand items are never lost or out of stock. Data can also help personalize the supply chain by marketing the right products to the right customers and improve delivery by making sure consumers get their goods quickly.
Ethics are still important
Paula Rosenblum, co-founder and managing partner at RSR Research, recently cautioned that retailers need to avoid getting carried away with big data. If they go too far with collecting information - either by pestering consumers with excessive requests, or going behind their backs and stealing personal data - it can get them in trouble.
There are plenty of ways companies can collect information without getting sleazy about it. They can request information at the point of sale, or by collecting it using social media programs or mobile apps. If they become excessively dogged in their pursuit of information, though, it can become a precarious situation.
Can education help?
While using more data will clearly be a hallmark of future generations, more awareness is necessary to promote the importance of analytics among teachers and students. This way, our schools can prepare young people for the IT job opportunities of the future, as Computerworld recently explained.
"There is a lot of demand for people who can say something meaningful about the data that is accumulating," said Prabhudev Konana, a professor at the University of Texas business school.
We're entering a new era in which big data analytics are the norm. Hopefully, the next generation will be prepared for that reality.