Big data: what is it, what is it for and why is it so important?

Feb 15, 2022 12:00:00 AM

big data-1These are two words that are used more and more frequently. However, although most of us understand what it is, few of us are aware of its real potential. Find out why many are calling data “the new oil” and how Location World is harnessing its power to take the transportation industry in Latin America to a whole new level.

What is "big data"?

This specific term is used to describe a large volume of data that is broadcasted from the use of different devices and interactions and is generated every day, non-stop.

However, although its name could give us the opposite impression, when it comes to "big data '', size is not the most important aspect. How complex is the data we’re working with and the patterns we can recognize within it are also relevant. These patterns allow us to carry out comparative and even predictive analyses, so we can apply them to various types of social, cultural and economic needs.

An important part of big data is that it is so vast, complex and is created so quickly (just imagine all the information generated by the devices of a large company every day; not to mention an entire city or an entire country) that it becomes impossible to process it (and to process it quickly) using traditional methods, such as "databases" or statistical tools.

When can we actually refer to something as big data?

Although, as we stated above, in big data it is not only size that matters, it is one of the main factors in determining whether an amount of data can be called big data or not. Data specialists currently refer to data sets ranging from 30-50 Terabytes to several Petabytes as big data. This, of course, as long as the type of information generated has a certain level of complexity, usefulness and relevance for a specific industry or sector.

Where does big data come from?

Vehicles, smartphones, computers, weblogs, GPS, sensors, chips, smart cameras, machinery, Internet searches, social media, call center logs, and other digital devices and interactions are capable of generating data every day. Thus, overwhelming networks of information are being created day after day. Once they learn how to tap it’s real power, big data can become a very important asset for several companies.

Currently, there are several experts who refer to data in general as the "new oil" because it allows us to know users and their preferences in a much more specific and accurate way than has been achieved until now. Today's society is producing more information in two days than in centuries of history. According to the consultancy Gartner, in 2020 there were already more than 25,000 million devices connected to the Internet, and all of them have been creating data 24/7.

Big data and advanced analytics

car data-1The large amount of data that is generated every day requires new management and analysis techniques, capable of navigating the 3Vs of big data: velocity, variety and volume. But when databases and statistical tools are no longer enough, how can we process such amounts of information?

This is where what is known as “advanced analytics” comes into play. It could be described as a set of digital tools and techniques, designed to perform complex and high-volume data analysis in a short period of time, with a high level of of precision, a low margin of error and in a clear and surprisingly specific way.

But why do we need to analyze all this data, so quickly and so precisely? As we mentioned before, all the data that we generate every day through the multiple devices we use create a kind of footprint of use, patterns that speak about our preferences, choices and lifestyle and that companies, organizations and, in some cases, even governments, can use it to their advantage to improve their user experiences or predict and impose new trends.

It is proven that the more a company knows about its customers, the more competitive it is. This is why when we talk about “advanced analytics” in Location World, we often repeat “either you evolve, or you disappear”.

Amazon’s overwhelming success is one of the clearest examples of how a corporation uses big data to fully exploit the knowledge of its users and take their shopping experience to another level, which has turned it into a corporation giant, with huge power all over the world.

Big data and smart fleet management

Learning to recognize, process and interpret big data can bring great advantages to a company. And this applies to all types of industries.

Big data is especially useful when we use it to power smart fleet management, also known as vehicle telematics and car data. As described by the automotive trends portal Hacker Car, according to DE-CIX (world's leading operator of Internet exchange points), connected car technology is among the four trends that are shaping the future of the traffic industry this year. Also, it is believed that there are currently around 37.9 million connected trucks in the world, compared to the 17.1 million that existed until 2015.

The more connected vehicles there exist in the market, the greater access to their data companies will have, creating more satisfying user experiences, both for personal vehicles users, as fleet managers as well.

Thanks to the variety of data available today, for example, the automotive industry can momentarily put car manufacturing aside, and focus on becoming service providers for its customers.

For companies working in the transport and logistics sector, on the other hand, starting to process big data through advanced analytics means that it is now possible to know the exact level of fuel consumption of each of the vehicles in a fleet; how many speeding tickets they got within a week, if they fully complied with their deliveries and much more.

For some years now, Location World has been introducing advanced tools into data processing, such as advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, contributing to the transformation of the transportation industry landscape in Latin America. It is a great moment for our sector and this is just the beginning.