The 7 Industries That Benefit Most From Big Data

September 6, 2016
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Every business in the world needs data to thrive. Data is what tells you who your customers are and how they operate, and it’s what can guide you to new insights and new innovations. Generally, the more data you have, the more specific and accurate insights you’ll be able to generate, which is why big data has become such a powerful tool (and buzzword) in recent years.

Every business in the world needs data to thrive. Data is what tells you who your customers are and how they operate, and it’s what can guide you to new insights and new innovations. Generally, the more data you have, the more specific and accurate insights you’ll be able to generate, which is why big data has become such a powerful tool (and buzzword) in recent years.

Theoretically, any business can benefit from using big data to learn more about their strategic position and development potential, but some industries can obviously benefit more than others. These are some of the industries with the greatest potential:

  1. Healthcare. The healthcare industry has enormous potential when it comes to big data, and because it deals with the health and wellness of individuals, it’s also one of the most important industries to consider. Modern healthcare management programs are starting to focus on data analysis in addition to traditional responsibilities, and it’s no secret why. Healthcare organizations can gather significant data on all incoming and current patients, and possibly share that data with other organizations to create even bigger networks of patient information. This, in turn, can help identify trends and patterns that lead to better understanding of how to address specific problems, such as drug interactions or treatment options, and ultimately better serve our population.
  2. Science. Similarly, any scientific discipline can make great use of big data. The more data you have to work with, and the larger sample size you’re working with, the lower your margin of error is going to be. Depending on what you’re studying, this could allow you to discern new insights you never even considered, such as spotting a trend outside your original scope of observation.
  3. Retail. The retail industry depends on consumer decisions and patterns of behavior, both of which can be studied intensively through the use of big data. For example, stores can monitor how many people are coming in and going out of a parking lot, how people are shopping in stores and online, and what patterns of behavior lead to what eventual purchasing decisions. All this data can be used to make better shopping environments and eventually drive more sales.
  4. Non-profit. Non-profits, such as churches and charitable organizations, usually depend on donations to survive, and those donations can be better secured when you know exactly who’s donating (and why they’re doing it). These organizations can use big data to get to know their top donors better and more efficiently target portions of the population most likely to donate. Data can also be used to measure a non-profit’s performance, such as how many lives were impacted by a specific program, or as a measure of how incoming donations were used to promote the organization.
  5. Politics. Politicians can use big data in a number of ways, both in the practical day-to-day demands of their jobs and in the pursuit to get re-elected. In the former, data can be used to evaluate the opinions of the public, and how funds should be used (or what laws should be made), as well as retrospectively analyzing the effectiveness of certain political decisions. In the latter, data can be used in the same way as non-profits, securing donations from those most likely to donate.
  6. Insurance. The insurance industry is a financially sensitive one, relying on carefully placed bets; insurance companies need to earn enough money from their enrolled participants to make up for their eventual payouts, which means they need to intimately understand the risks involved with each and every newly enrolled participant. Big data can help them understand, more precisely than ever, the potential risks and rewards of each new subscriber.
  7. Agriculture. The agriculture industry, too, has much to benefit in using big data. Farmers rely on yields to continue making money (not to mention providing a suitable food supply to the population), and those yields vary depending on countless independent factors. With big data, agriculturalists can pinpoint exactly what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and what to do to compensate for those qualities—again, with more accuracy than ever before.

Planning and Execution

If your business or organization belongs to one of these industries, you need to be using big data to support your efforts. But it isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. Even though data analysis and visualization tools have come a long way in the past decade, big data analysis still relies on human intervention and coordination to be successful.

You need to know how to ask the right questions, how to eliminate your own bias, and how to form actionable insights rather than basic conclusions; it takes time and training, but with the right focus you’ll get there. The longer you leverage big data, and the more immersed you are in your efforts, the more you’ll stand to gain.