Thursday, February 23, 2012

Big Data = New Class of Economic Asset

In a single week, a small-scale farmer in rural Kenya may use his mobile phone to pay for seeds, search for co-ops offering the best prices for sorghum, and text his expatriate brother asking for money for school fees or medicine for a sick child. This farmer’s mobile phone usage may be of interest to a sociologist or cultural anthropologist. But when combined with usage information from 27 million other mobile subscribers in Kenya, the data paint a unique, unprecedented image of public behaviors, preferences, and needs. According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated worldwide every 24 hours. Interest in the collection and use of this so-called "big data" is gathering steam. It is new class of economic asset, like currency or gold.

Yet, there is an important difference between developed and developing countries in terms of data creation. In the developed world, data is produced by a wide variety of sources - Internet-enabled computers and mobile devices, ATMs, cash registers, GPSs, cell phones, RFID tags, and many others. In urban areas of developing countries, the variety of data sources is beginning to rival mature-market cities. However, in the remote areas of many countries, mobile phones are by far the dominant source of data. This presents a unique opportunity for private companies, governments, academic institutions, and development organizations. Data from mobile phones can be used by companies to support new product definition, market segmentation, and ongoing product and service development. Governments and NGOs can use big data to allocate resources, evaluate and improve social programs, and quickly identify (and respond to) health and environmental crises.

In a recent report for the World Economic Forum, Vital Wave Consulting showed that momentum is growing for a centralized "data commons" that will guide public and private sector efforts to gather, clean, protect, and share data. This work is being advanced by the UN, NGOs, academic institutions, and innovative organizations like Kenya’s Ushahidi and San Francisco’s Global Viral Forecasting Initiative. These groups foresee the application of big data to persistent challenges in the areas of health, public services, agriculture, financial services for the poor, and disaster relief. To be sure, there are obstacles to overcome - privacy and security, data quality, incentivizing private companies to share data, and a dearth of data mining and analysis expertise. But the singular importance of mobile phone-generated data throughout the developing world presents a clearer path to data gathering and usage. And the potential benefits to sharing and aggregating data are becoming more evident each day.


benslin kard said...

Big Data Development is based on these number of these principles are security, performance and data quality management.

Ashish Shandilya said...

Thanks for sharing this useful info. Keep updating same way.
Regards,Ashish Training and consultancy