20+ Examples of Getting Results with Big Data

May 15, 2013 Stacey Schneider

According to McKinsey, companies who miss big data opportunities of today will miss the next frontier of innovation, competition, and productivity. To back up these assertions, leading business schools and corporate thought leaders also point out examples and the opportunities at hand. Even with all the buzz, many companies and executives still remain suspicious or even unclear about their ability to achieve value from big data and the industrial internet during the next era of computing.

With this in mind, we take a step back to look at the underlying technology enablers behind the next era of computing and provide over 20 examples of where companies are getting results with big data today. Right now in 2013, there are four game-changing, paradigm-shifting happening right before our eyes.

attention-big-data-aheadThese enablers might not be terribly surprising, but they should be if you give them enough attention.

We’ve never had greater, better analyzed, more pervasive, or increasingly connected computing power and information at a cheaper price in the history of the world.

Let’s break this statement into further detail to shed light on the impact:

  1. Applications are delivering more work than ever—massively parallel, distributed computing is available at increasingly lower costs. Did you know that you can run the same software Google uses for search analysis on computers the size of your hand that cost under US $50 each?
  2. Analytics are still one of the top priorities for executives—measurement is a priority because every shareholder, CEO, and VP on the planet wants to make better decisions. Because of this, the business analytics market continues to innovate and grow at a solid rate. According to a report by IDC last June, the market will reach US $50.7 billion in 2016 due to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8%.
  3. Mechanical sensors are becoming pervasive—the general sensor market is expected to grow at a 6.1% annual rate to US $14.9B by 2016, and the market for smart electromechanical devices that measure everything from temperature, to images, to chemicals expects to grow to US $6.8B by 2018 at a CAGR of 9.8%. More importantly, advanced phone and tablet capabilities are driving the pervasive use of micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) and significant market growth—for example, acceleration/yaw sensor sales are projected to grow at a 16.6% CAGR to US $5.4B and GNSS (location-based services) will grow at 20.98% CAGR.
  4. Every physical thing is becoming connected at all times—as mentioned in our previous article on big data myths, AT&T claims 20,000% growth on wireless traffic over the past 5 years and Cisco believes IP traffic will grow four fold from 2011 to 2016.

If you dig into the articles above, you’ll find that these aren’t just about crystal ball projections. Growth has been shown in the recent past. These four, high-growth enablers allow companies to perform new activities that they’ve never been able to do before. We can now do any type of analysis on any large group of things at any point in their lifecycle and at a very reasonable price.

With this perspective in mind, here are several examples of how bigger, better, faster, stronger applications, analytics, sensors, and networks are creating results with big data today across various industries.

financial-services1. The Financial Services Industry

Of course, it’s probably no surprise the financial services industry wants to use data to make better financial decisions. For example, Morgan Stanley ran into issues doing portfolio analysis on traditional databases and now uses Hadoop to analyze investments “on a larger scale, with better results.” As well, Hadoop is being used in the industry for sentiment analysis, predictive analytics, and financial trades.

2. The Automotive Industry automotive

According to this article, Ford’s modern hybrid Fusion model generates up to 25 GB of data per hour. Why? The data can be used to understand driving behaviors and reduce accidents, understand wear and tear to identify issues that lower maintenance costs, avoid collisions, and even confirm travelling arrangements.

3. Supply Chain, Logistics, and Industrial Engineering

railroadCompanies like Union Pacific Railroad use thermometers, microphones, and ultrasound to capture data about their engines and send it for analysis to identify equipment at risk for failure. INTTRA, the world’s largest, multi-carrier network for the ocean shipping industry, uses it’s OceanMetrics application to allow shippers and carriers to measure their own performance. As well, companies are using telematics and big data to streamline trucking fleets and how they can improve fuel usage and routes. GE believes these types new capabilities can contribute $15 trillion to the global GDP by 2030 by using systematic, data-driven analysis to trim costs and waste.

retail-shopping4. Retail

Walmart is using big data from 10 different websites to feed shopper and transaction data into an analytical system. Sears and Kmart are trying to improve the personalization of marketing campaigns, coupons, and offers with big data to compete better with Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon. As the leader in the space, Amazon uses 1 million Hadoop clusters to support their affiliate network, risk management, machine learning, website updates, and more.

entertainment5. Entertainment

Companies like Time Warner, Comcast, and Cablevision are using big data to track media consumption and engagement, advertising, and customer retention as well as operations and infrastructure. The video game industry is using big data for tracking during gameplay and after, predicting performance, and analyzing over 500GB of structured data and 4 TB of operational logs each day. Even brands like ESPN are looking to get in on the action.

With such a wide variety of scenarios where big data is adding value, it’s easier to see how this new era of computing deserves our attention.

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