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Big Data: 8 Intriguing Ways Companies Can Use Your Data

Big Data: 8 Intriguing Ways Companies Can Use Your Data

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Last Updated March 8, 2024


In the previous article, we focused on some of the unusual ways companies can collect big data.

Another part is how this data can be used to provide information on customers and employees.

Here we will discuss how that data may be used.

Read below to learn about eight interesting ways that big data is currently being leveraged in the business world.


Aerial Residential View

1. Getting an Aerial View of Your Values

Publicly available satellite data is something that may not appear to deliver much information other than the layout of cities or terrain features.

However, some analysts argue that much can be learned about people and organizations based on what is visible from the sky.

For example, a company called HaystaqDNA has developed algorithms that can detect whether residents have solar panels installed on their roofs.

This allows the company to have a sense of which residents may be more environmentally conscious and have enough disposable income to invest in new technology.

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2. Mining for Market Trends

Dataminr is a company that specializes in learning more about Twitter users based on their posts. With more than 500 million tweets posted every day, organizations may be interested to learn which tweets are more important. This may help give a sense of urgent news or other information.

Dataminr combs through these tweets in real-time, using algorithms to classify them based on importance, user reputation and patterns of information. For example, if enough users tweet about a particular topic, Dataminr can send out an alert to clients that important news may be breaking.

Employment Documents

3. Predicting Employee Success

HR departments are typically interested in creating detailed profiles of their employees and trying to quantify workplace performance.

Yet, some companies specialize in deeper analysis.

For instance, big data company Evolv suggests that even the web browser a person chooses to use can say something about future performance.

Data suggests that users who use alternative browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox often show higher job performance than people who use the default browsers packaged with their systems.


4. Guiding Your Next Purchase

Data from loyalty cards and credit cards can provide more information to retailers than how much they have sold a particular product. With big data, information on everything a customer chooses to buy can be sold to advertising companies.

Ad companies do this so they can target consumers with specific purchase histories. For example, a business might want to send out advertisements to everyone who has bought a certain breakfast cereal in the last month.

Married Couple Expecting

5. Discovering Lifestyle Changes

Purchase data can do more than allow companies to focus on certain advertisements.

In one case, Target was able to use big data to discover that one of its customers was pregnant, and later sent her coupons for baby products.

Statistician Andrew Pole developed a formula comprised of 25 products that determined the likelihood of pregnancy when the products were purchased together.

Individuals who unknowingly participated in the experiment did not know they were pregnant at the time of the experiment, but later confirmed Pole’s system was correct.


6. Maximizing In-App Purchases

Tracking gamers as they play their favorite mobile or console games can provide a clear picture of the actions often taken before a gamer decides to spend additional money.

By using tools like the HoneyLizer™, software developers can include advertisements in their games and maximize the chance of future purchases while not discouraging the user.

Checking Email

7. Crawling Email for Interests

Many companies often have an active interest in the content of a user’s emails.

Suppose you send an email to a friend about a pet using a popular service like Google’s Gmail.

Afterwards, when you see advertisements about animal products, both within Gmail and throughout other areas of Google, this is often a result of big data analysis.

Google Ads uses algorithms to scan emails and deliver targeted advertisements depending on common user topics.


8. Leveraging the Absence of Information

One interesting way that companies can use social media is by understanding which posts or topics are deleted and why. Recently, a team of researchers from Harvard University were able to take a snapshot of all social media posts in China and then cross-reference the list with a snapshot of posts after the government censored them.

After comparing the first snapshot to the second, researchers were able to determine the types of posts commonly censored by Chinese authorities and, in turn, develop a better understanding of its ruling government.


Big Data Legality

The insights provided by big data can be extensive, with companies continuing to innovate and develop new ways of understanding their customers based on the increasing amount of data available to them.

However, some privacy advocates may question the legitimacy of using big data. The final article in this series explains how companies can legally collect and use your data.