Implementing business strategies using big data will become increasingly useful for growth and profitability. Big datasets involve large amounts of processing and storage capacity — so often the choice for users is utilizing cloud-based providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), as businesses often lack the large digital storage capacity necessary.

Examples of how Big Data helped businesses to reach objectives and to make market-oriented decisions:

Real Estate and Municipal Planning

By using satellite imaging, companies and local government can analyze gigabytes of data that include ground mapping, watercourses, and flooding, legal and illegal development, and implement appropriate procedures. In the Chinese city of Changchun and its surrounding areas, which encompasses a diverse landscape, from the city’s urban core to rural mountainous areas and more than 200 rivers and lakes, DigitalGlobe mapping enabled the city’s administrators to analyze 6,069 square kilometers of imagery to facilitate their planning goals.

Miami Digital Development Agency (DDA) worked with CyberCity 3D to develop a 3D streaming map to track and communicate urban development and execution as well as visualize urban transportation and sustainability planning. Both teams worked to integrate detailed capital improvement information, accessed by clicking color-coded building models on the map, for a robust “smart 3D” experience. This use of Big Data allowed businesses to use the models created to plan for the future, knowing what buildings and infrastructure were going to be available.

Smart City initiatives across the Middle East region, including major projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, are going to generate massive amounts of data in future, which will provide city planners with the information they will need to develop sustainably.

Banking and financial systems

As banks now can accumulate and monitor their millions of customers in real-time, the logical first use of these systems is to prevent fraud. Unorthodox transactions can be instantly detected and stopped. If you have just used your credit card in an ATM in your hometown, it would seem to be odd if there were transactions debited from Turkey that day. In 2016 it is estimated worldwide that US$ 181 billion was lost to fraud. With fraud increasing this is an area that the banks want to clamp down on.

They can also learn more about their customer, and offer useful, targetted products by knowing what the customer needs. For example, if the bank user replaces their car every three years, the bank could provide them a vehicle loan when this date cycles around.

International Development

There are all sorts of different ways that Big Data can improve decisions about aid and development, including health care, employment, economics and business, crime, security and also how organizations react to natural disasters.

In the recent California wildfires which threatened to engulf many inhabited areas, fire and rescue organizations could study the spread of the fire by using satellite imagery, provided free by Digital Globe in the case of disasters. They could then plan the most effective use of their resources and personnel to fight the fire, and see where they were succeeding, and where the fire was spreading and needed more firefighters mobilized.

Healthcare

This is a prime area where Big Data can have a major impact on peoples’ quality of life. The operational use includes personalized medicine and medicine prescription analysis, clinical risk intervention and predictive analytics, waste and care variability planning, automated external and internal reporting of patient data.

The level of data generated by healthcare systems is very large. With the added adoption of individual health monitoring and wearable technologies, the volume of data will continue to increase. This includes electronic health record data, imaging data, patient-generated data, sensor data, and other forms of data, which need processing and analyzing. The potentials for this include better health for people, along with reductions in costs, which bedevil many healthcare systems, as medicine becomes more expensive, and the demographics of societies mean that greater numbers of older people need more healthcare.

Markets and Retail

Retailers, particularly large supermarket chains have huge amounts of data on their products. They also sell perishable goods. Fresh food has a limited shelf-life and storage logistics are complex. The better a supermarket can predict consumer behavior, the less waste it will have to dispose of. It can also anticipate local needs better, for example, if a big sporting event is held like 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, there might be an uptick in sales of snacks and drinks for example.

This is where data from shopper loyalty programmes and credit card purchases can be useful. This information can be used to anticipate customers’ needs ahead of time. For instance, grocers can use data analytics to determine how often shoppers buy milk, bread or other products, and then send each household coupons based on their specific purchasing habits, in order to tempt them into the store regularly. These programmes can be tailored to locality — so special offers available at their nearest shop can be sent to customers.

According to an industry report, this strategy worked for upmarket U.K. grocer Waitrose. Big Data gave the company deeper insight into consumer buying behavior and demand patterns via advanced customer analytics. Forecasting tools helped the supermarket chain maintain optimised stocks, achieve faster sales and reduce wastage on their perishable goods.

Of course, the most recognizable user of Big Data is Amazon, which pioneered the “recommendations” Amazon customers receive in emails after they have bought an item. Previously nobody had thought to suggest, “If you liked this book you should try….” literary recommendations, but they work and have meant many more sales.

Conclusion

Speed to market and product differentiation are two key factors for business success. To achieve both, organizations need to rapidly innovate and drive change. Every kind of company, in all business sectors, need to consider how to survive in today’s global, turbulent economy. Big Data provides one avenue: your company needs to learn to leverage data science and analytics in order to drive innovation, growth, and profitability. In the Middle East, in particular, businesses have lagged behind in their utilization of Big Data. According to a recent report by MicroMarket Monitor, the Middle East business intelligence market is set to more than double to USD 12 billion by 2020. This suggests there is a strong potential for Big Data analytics to enable transformations of existing businesses throughout the region.

Ali H. Askar
AWS Cloud Solutions Consultant, Zero & One
a.askar@zeroandone.me

A Quant Trader | Data Scientist | can I help you? linkedin.com/in/ali-h-askar