Big Data: How it is used, Pros and Cons.

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By this time we are all aware that by accessing digital services we do forfeit information about ourselves in order to be granted access. These kinds of services cut across the spectrum, from social media to supermarket shopping. It is improbable to skip financial services that are increasingly penetrating the rural with little difficulty. Big data is revolutionized the way institutions of services including academics get informed about the people they are serving. It is futile to keep serving people that you do not know about their needs or priorities or even habits. It pays to meet the need of the customer at the right time. Also, being connected with the people one cares about through social platforms is commendable. Equally, it is a plus to purchase a product online and find it home without going to the store kilometers away from a workplace and/or residence.

By the year 2009, it was estimated that a company of 1000 customers already had 200 terabytes of data of their customer lives(Monnappa, 2020). Netflix’s prize contest (USD 1m) for big data programmers was intended to predict whether someone will enjoy a movie based on how much they liked or disliked other movies (Netflix, 2009). The movie company predicts consumer behavior in order to maximize profits. (good or bad, it works!). Amazon, on the other hand, uses a recommendation system, These recommendations are based on what the user bought in the past, items in the virtual shopping cart, rated, liked, viewed, or purchased(Mangalindan, 2012).

Take a pick of a few of your favorite sites (ones you interact with often), let’s say, Facebook, Twitter, online store among others, how much data is collected and stored about your daily activities? It is easier to predict your behavioral and emotional patterns to the benefit of the store marketing team or social media advertising agency.

In spite of all the good things we enjoy utilizing digital platforms, everything is not rosy. Privacy is one of the challenges eluding the act of collecting, storing, and disseminating data online. The more we share the more someone is able to learn about us that even anonymized data is still revealing. Also, personal information out of your hands can fall into the hands of those not willing to sign any understanding with a firm such as Facebook. Hackers maliciously attack public platforms(airlines, email providers, governments, etc.) to collect data and resell it to unregulated markets.

Is there a way data can be collected, stored, and used without subjecting the owner to vulnerability? I can’t think of one today but the present and the future should be interested in this subject where much of the information we normally give out willingly will no longer be necessary to be granted access to a service.

References:

Monnappa, A. (2020)’ How Facebook is Using Big Data – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ [Online]. Available at https://www.simplilearn.com/how-facebook-is-using-big-data-article (Accessed July 04, 2020).

Netflix (2009) ‘The Netflix prize rules‘ [Online]. Available at https://www.netflixprize.com/assets/rules.pdf (Accessed July 04, 2020).

Mangalindan, JP. (2012) [Amazon’s recommendation secret [Online]. Available at https://fortune.com/2012/07/30/amazons-recommendation-secret/ (Accessed July 05, 2020).

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