Peggy Barthes-Streit Peggy Barthes-Streit Head of mData, Everything Everywhere
Connected objects are changing the face of Big Data

Connected objects are changing the face of Big Data

Taking a innovation-led approach to Big Data, Peggy Barthes-Streit, Head of mData at the UK’s largest mobile network, EE, explores the future of analytics. Insights include the revolutionary potential of the ever-expanding Internet of Things; how to boost your ROI on advertising spend with the help of m-data; and how data visualisation is essential to reaping the rewards of data analytics.

The types of data that can be used to create insights for businesses and the public sector continues to expand at an astonishing pace, and the “Internet of Things” is going to radically change the nature and volume of data that is available.

With steadily increasing penetration of smartphones and tablets, we can understand the behaviour of populations and customer bases while they’re on the move in ways we have never been able to before, but that’s just the beginning. With the predicted explosion of connected machines and devices of all descriptions – analyst firm Gartner predicts 4.9 billion connected “things” will be in use by 2020 – we are looking at a huge wave of data that could be used to inform everything from marketing strategies to public health decisions. Big Data will become even more essential and useful for big decisions.

With a growing and more complex pool of data, the ability of data scientists to clearly and confidently communicate insights to business decision makers will continue to be fundamental. We are seeing the market react to this – analyst firm IDC predicts that visual data discovery tools will grow 2.5 times faster than any other segment in the business intelligence market in 2015, and that by 2018 all enterprises will need to invest in these tools to enable a broader range of business decision makers to visually interact with data.

Well-designed data visualisation could help speed up the business decision-making process by augmenting and possibly even replacing traditional business intelligence tools. I think perhaps just as importantly, they will make it possible for even the uninitiated to examine complex datasets and pull out powerful trends and correlations that inform and empower big business decisions, as IDC predicts, all without the need to consult thousands of spreadsheets and billions of lines of data, traditionally the mind-boggling domain of the data scientist.

Today, forward-thinking advertisers are already doing incredible things. Tackling head-on the well-known quote “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”, leading out-of-home (OOH) communications agency Posterscope is now able to identify and visualise outdoor advertising hotspots by mobile activity, which has enabled it to triple the efficiency of OOH campaigns for some clients. One household name retailer realised a 6:1 ROI and more than 30% increase in bricks-and-mortar footfall on its geo targeted mobile advertising campaign via a leading social network (both with the aid of mData from EE). With the explosion of connected objects and the right data visualisation techniques, much more will be possible.

Big Data is big today, but it is getting even bigger – in terms of the size and variety of data available, as well as its recognition as a transformative business tool. Some of this flood of new data will be useful, some less so. Some will undoubtedly make the crucial difference in standing out from the competition, but one thing is for certain: the more people you have who are capable of understanding and mining that data with ease, the more likely you are to reap the benefits.

The most important tip I can offer is to include visualisation in your plans. Whether selecting a Big Data partner or augmenting your own business intelligence capabilities, it is the democratisation of Big Data’s analytical power afforded by sophisticated visualisation that will allow more people in your organisation to make better decisions, every time.