The promise of big data: bringing technology and the economy together


The subject of big data has been getting increasing attention over the years. Big data now dominates both market and technology trends. New developments and innovative efforts on big data in different sectors have been reported in the media everyday.

On the Chinese mainland, the most recent news is that the province of Guizhou, with support from the central government, is establishing itself as a pioneer and leader in the big data industry. A big data exchange began operation in 2015, the first of its kind on the Chinese mainland.

In Hong Kong, each month there are workshops and forums on big data organised by the government, industry and academics. Almost all the local universities have set up centres and labs for big data research and applications.

As time goes on, we have gained a better understanding about big data, both its meaning and the benefits. Now we know that the key concept of big data is not only about the volume of data, but more importantly, the type of data.

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Different sources of data in larger volumes and greater variety come not only from devices and sensors but also from human activities. It is not only about the product itself but also how the product is used.

The increase in real-time data from sensors, web pages, click streams, and social media allows for improved measurement and monitoring, and consequently seeing things with larger scope, and with more details and greater clarity, in a way we couldn’t see before.

With several orders of magnitude more fine-grained and from different angles, big data makes the invisible visible, enabling us to see things that were impossible to see before, to formulate new questions and discover hidden knowledge.

We also have experienced more about the promise of big data, the benefits and insights from and innovations driven by big data. Big data offers us a better opportunity to capture a better and clearer view of business.

Before, efficiency had been the major concern but now, with big data, cutting cost, boosting revenues, streamlining operations, and optimising decisions have been added to executives’ agenda list.

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Data guides operations and strategy, so a company can decide where to put more investment and manpower, and determine how the design of a product can be improved to increase user engagement. Data is also used to guide and make better decisions in business, in comparison with those decisions made based on experience and intuition.

A survey conducted by Lorin Hitt from Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania and Heekyung Kim from MIT found that companies which adopted data-driven decision making achieved productivity that was over 5 per cent higher than what could be explained by other factors.

Big data also drives innovations, enabling us to discover new problems and find new ways to solve a problem.;

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