Should we be afraid of big data?

@Meagan Gardner

It feels like our technology really knows us, which can be either cool, or crazy, or scary, depending on who you ask.

Pretty much everything these days is personalized, from the targeted ads we see on our Facebook feeds, to customized emojis, to facial recognition software that tags friends in our photos so we don’t have to. It feels like our technology really knows us, which can be either cool, or crazy, or scary, depending on who you ask. How does technology know so much? The answer lies in big data.  

 

What exactly is big data?

Big Data is an umbrella term that refers to massive quantities of user-generated data that can be analyzed to reveal trends, associations and patterns.  Today, we do almost everything on the internet, from shopping, to making plans, to chatting with friends.  Every time we go online, we leave behind a trail of data that can be analyzed to make insights about who we are, what we like and how we can be reached.

 

Has big data been successful so far?

Absolutely. Everybody benefits from big data. Targeted ads have completely changed the game for brands and marketers, easily connecting them with potential consumers and driving revenue.  Cookies make the web easier to navigate and bring together brands and consumers so there is less media waste. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat connect users across the world and use big data analytics to make suggestions about things we may like, such as accounts and people to follow, events to attend, you name it.

And big data can be used for so much more than just business. It is revolutionizing healthcare information systems by aggregating massive quantities of data that were previously unmanageable. On a more individual level, big data can help people understand their personal health in a way that can encourage them to make healthier choices at a younger age. For example, the iPhone’s Health app is equipped with a calorie counter, vitamin intake suggestions, a pedometer and a sleep analyzer.  

It also allows governments to function more efficiently by improving internal operations and creating feedback channels with the public via social media, city apps, and so much more. It’s hard to imagine a life without access to all this information, isn’t it?

Data scientists: not all heroes wear capes

So then, who is responsible for harnessing big data to transform the world? Data scientists. The term data scientist was coined in 2001 and refers to the individuals who “utilize their knowledge of statistics and modeling to convert data into actionable insights about everything . . . ” (Hansen, 2016). In other words, they are the problem-solvers of today. They are people who look at data and don’t just see numbers, but a story that wants to be told.

 

IEU helps you discover your potential

The integration and acceptance of big data in our lives means that an IEU degree in data science is incredibly valuable in today’s job market. Career possibilities for graduates of our data science programs include: statisticians, business intelligence specialists, data analysts, project managers, to name a few. If that wasn’t convincing enough, Glassdoor named Data Scientist the number 1 job in America for both 2016 and 2017!

At IEU, our Bachelor in Data Science is geared towards curious and analytical individuals who want to solve the complex issues of everyday life.  Our program gives you the opportunity to work with innovative technologies and industry experts in a hands-on environment. We believe in putting you in the driver’s seat of your own education so you can understand your potential to drive positive change and transform the world.