business intelligence

Winning the Big Data Race

The use of big data and advanced analytics are slowly moving from theory into practice in the business world. However, the use of these potential game-changers is noticeably different across varying industries – even when there is an obvious application. While in industries such as finance, retail and telecommunications – the use of advanced analytics and big data is already common, in both descriptive and forecasting terms, other industries such as utilities and healthcare have been slower to catch on.

This is incredible, when for example utility companies can be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars by forecasting usage. Writing for, Peter Dinham quotes Dr. Hong, founding chair of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), as espousing savings of up to $800,000 to $10m from the use of advanced analytics for forecasting purposes. This is especially so when it comes to areas such as load forecasting, price forecasting and renewable forecasting.

Despite such large savings, the use of big data within the utilities sector is for reporting and descriptive analytics purposes. Advanced analytics for forecasting purposes is still the exception, rather than the norm despite the obvious competitive benefits and improvements to the business they could see from utilizing this more fully.

The use of advanced analytics for predictive purposes has more impact within the realm of healthcare and patient outcomes, writes Thor Olavsrud for CIO magazine. If wearables and the collection of data from these devices can be put to good use, then the result can be keeping more people out of hospitals in the first place. For example, says Nathan Larson – Director of Remote Medical Sensing at Dartmouth-Hitchcock – if a high blood pressure reading is recorded, then a message can be fed to district nurses who can place a call to the wearer and advise them of any changes needed to their diet or medication before a trip to the hospital is even necessary.

Such a change would be revolutionary and help to build a health system based on health, not on healthcare. This would make healthcare and hospitals more sustainable while at the same time improving patient outcomes across the board.

Looking ahead into 2016, at least in Australia writes, the industries that have been leading in big data so far – finance, retail and telecommunications – are expected to activate the analytics projects they have been planning for some time.

Industries such as utilities and healthcare, while still playing catch up are expected to begin putting in place the architectures and strategies for advanced analytics – though will remain behind for some time to come. Yet, as the barriers to entry and the cost, and amount, of technology required continue to tumble the next 12 months or so will be a year that will see industries across the spectrum extract more and more value from big data and advanced analytics.