This article was written by Lara Solara (@larasolara) – originally published by Troy Media.
Converting raw data into insights
Not all data is worth the same.
The average person is bombarded with data during almost every waking moment: TV shows and ads, text messages, radio broadcasts, various print media, and a whirlwind of instant messages, pop-up ads, videos, and sound-bytes on the internet. Some may be accurate, most not, some may be applicable to our purposes, most not: most of us do not have the time, training or inclination to sift through the drek to discover the nuggets that will help us achieve our results. The internet provides us with access to vast amounts of text and other types of raw data, data that can used in business practices, communications, governmental processes, personal interactions, and so on.
The road to nowhere
No one can accurately process or make use of all of that information. Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, the world’s largest index of the Internet, estimated the size of the internet to be over five million terabytes. That is over five trillion megabytes. Welcome the “inundation age.”
In other words, the “information superhighway” is often a road to nowhere or to chaos and indecision. And that’s where analytics – data-driven applications as aides for automating decision making – comes in.
Highly-advanced computer algorithms process both structured data (which allows you to select specific pieces of information based on columns and rows in a field organized and searchable by data type within the actual content), and unstructured data (data that is not part of a database) to identify and analyze patterns that lead to targeted insights for supporting decisions. These algorithms allow us to take a “big picture” perspective of the data, which we in turn can organize and process in a way that the human mind could not hope to comprehend by itself.
Aristotle theorized that government was the greatest human endeavour because it influences and controls . . . well, everything. That same logic can be applied to the implications of analytics, which has emerged as a universally applicable method for aiding and making all manner of decisions.
Analytics can assist the decision-making process in virtually any field, discipline, or industry, making it one of the most commonly used and relied upon methods to inform wide-ranging leadership. Because of this, it is not unrealistic to imagine that analytics may become the primary method for all major world organizations to craft their policies and plans of action.
Dr. Perry Kinkaide, Chair of the first Canadian “Analytics, Big, Data, and The Cloud” Conference, held April 23 to 25, 2012 in Edmonton, said…
The implications for knowledge-based professions, government and consumer-driven companies, will be extraordinary. Never has the following mantras been more relevant: ‘He who knows his customer best has no competition.”
Knowledge without relationships has no value.” Kinkaide added. “The power of analytics enables corporations, government and the professions to align their services with the expectations of the consumer.” This is truly evolutionary.”
Analytics is being applied to a vast number of areas of knowledge: business, ecology, healthcare, sports, government policy, city planning, technological development, medical research, and practically every scholarly discipline imaginable. Analytic systems are already being used all over the world to increase the efficiency and success of some of the most important endeavours on the planet: air traffic control, disease control, water and utility operations, evacuation planning, food and utility distribution, auto traffic planning, medical diagnoses, banking, mortgage processing, and more.
In theory, technology is only as good as the people who create and program it. Fortunately, the analytics field has attracted some of the most brilliant technological minds in the world to ensure accuracy. Reliable studies have shown that companies that use advanced analytics as an integral part of their decision-making greatly increase their productivity and their profits. Other research has yielded similar results, indicating that the accuracy of analytics application is considerable.
Of course, nothing is infallible, especially when it comes to predicting the future. Predictive analytics, however, have shown a high degree of accuracy. Generally speaking, analytics have proven to be highly accurate, including important, practical applications that depend upon high degrees of precision such as air traffic controlling, utilities, medical applications, etc. All of these applications have resulted in spectacular success.
But the variety of applications of analytics technology is only one aspect of analytics overall versatility. It is also versatile in terms of its use when considering Cloud analytics. By utilizing cloud-based analytics systems, users have more options, and more protections, than ever before.
Users can have full access to all services from any computer, anywhere on the planet. They are also free from many of the problems that plague users of conventional computer systems: limited memory, limited storage, loss, theft, accidental damage, viruses, and various other complications and catastrophes.
As the ICT industry adopts cloud-based, wireless systems, the world’s global economy will transition into a sleeker, faster, more mobile, and more flexible work environment for all industries. Massive amounts of information will be analyzed through cloud systems, enabling us to tackle more complex, wide-ranging problems and questions than ever before. The unlimited versatility of such a system indicates a quantum leap beyond merely plugging in and surfing the net. Technology of this level is a prelude to a world in which advanced research and thinking are possible on levels that have never been imagined.
Analytics provides practical insight
While the “information age” gave people greater access to raw data than ever before in history (whether accurate or inaccurate), the “analytics age” goes beyond the mere presentation of jumbled data and provides something that is far more valuable: insight and practical application. Everyone, from policy makers and business owners to private citizens may soon be able to log onto any computer anywhere and run sophisticated, customized analytics programs to gain new perspectives on a number of issues pertinent to his or her life and work.
Troy Media’s Lara Solara is owner of Edmonton-based Online Publishing Inc which provides quasi-ghostwriting services for websites and blogs.