The emergence of ‘big data‘ – the wealth of information being collected daily on customer behaviour and attitude via websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc – will cause a change in research as we know it. Internationally, the ‘big data’ discourse have gone a far way, however no mention has been made regarding its impact locally.
Data collection change:
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and foursquare to name a few, collect millions of data on customers and website users on a daily basis. Some of the data collected are as follows:
- Location – Foursquare or Facebook check in
- Feelings/ opinions – Twitter posts about mood
- Sentiments – about a company or product
- Likes – what you are interested in
- Demographic information – age & gender
Among other data that is freely shared by users of these free services. The days of physically walking ‘door to door’ asking questions in order to collect data are numbered, data is constantly being produced and stored, the problem (or opportunity) is now the utilization of this available data – that’s where the alignment of software developers and the statisticians/ or data analyst is critical.
Jamaica has a growing tech community with several graphic designers and application developers all developing solutions they hope consumers will like and purchase. Few have seen the value in strategically developing applications which are data driven, that is, along with providing value to the consumer they actually collect valuable data from them.
Jamaica and by extension the wider Caribbean region is faced with many development problems, chief among them are high crime rates, high cost of justice, low customer service (both public and private sectors), high cost of collecting data, low levels of efficiency in production etc. The above problems represent areas where additional data could help to ameliorate if not solve many of these issues. The nexus between developers and data analyst holds tremendous opportunities for improved efficiency and data gathering throughout the Caribbean. More data, better analysis, more insights and more solutions to current problems.
The change is underway:
IBM, for example offers a text analytics software which allows users to gather and analyze data from Twitter and Facebook postings about a company. That is, using their text analytics software, you can get an overall picture of customer/ user sentiments about a company.
Just consider the implications this might have on the future of polls! Based on tweets and social media sentiments, one could actually be able to predict election outcomes with 0% margin of error – talk about big data!
Companies collecting ‘big data’ will hold tremendous insights relating to its consumers and a country’s population in general. Imagine being able to see attitude change in real-time, to see customer feedback about service and being able to quickly respond to negative sentiments.
CVM came under tremendous pressure from Jamaicans via the social media throughout most of the London 2012 Olympics. This dissatisfaction with the company’s coverage was evident on Twitter days before being published in the local news papers. This is one example of the future potential of ‘big data analysis’ in Jamaica, and its implication for large establishments.
The new age of research will see the rise of the analyst and presenter, persons/ companies skilled in interpreting and gathering insights from large volumes of data. This is especially true for big companies serving large demographics of customers.
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About the author: Luwayne Thomas is Co-founder & Managing Director @balcostics
Follow me on twitter: @LuwayneThomas
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