Data is one of the first “precious commodities” in the world was gold. Many of us may have read about the California Gold Rush of 1849-1855. It was, and still is, one of the largest migrations in the history of the USA where people from all over the world flocked to get a piece of the pie. The oil boom was the second such boom that caused a single commodity to change the picture of the Middle East. Today the most valuable commodity is neither a natural resource nor is it in any danger of getting used up. It has become the most powerful commodity of the twenty-first century.
Where do Companies get Data?
Companies get their information from people like you and me who use multiple “connected” devices that produce data and logs. Earlier, mobile phones were the only devices that generated information for companies. Today thanks to the “Internet of Things”, companies are collecting data from your mobiles, smart-watches, smart-speakers (like Alexa), smart cars and more. As more and more devices connect, there’s a larger stream of information that is shared between devices for communication. This data log used either for advertisements or for improving the user experience.
There’s another source for companies that is larger and collected from smart devices. That’s the wealth of information on the internet. Due to the rapid growth of the World Wide Web, companies and individuals now have massive chunks of data on the internet. All this data scraped, crawled used by other companies as well as researchers. While you may think that the data on the internet is accessible to all, and hence does not have a value, you are very wrong. Data on the internet might be accessible to all, but only the keen eye knows which data to extract, how to extract it, and how to put the extracted data to good use.
Who is Using The Data?
It’s not just multinational companies who are after the information. Research organizations, hedge funds, financial institutions, governments, and even individuals are after more and the more sensitive data, the higher its price. The end-usage varies and ranges from governments trying to subsidize those in need to research labs.
Financial and market data is one of the most sought after data-feeds. since there is a lot of money that is available if you have the right information at the right time. But product and pricing data has found the highest usage in the online world. Data related to items for sale on eCommerce websites, hotel prices, and even airline tickets are being scraped and analyzed. Each company is trying to provide better prices or deals to attract the end customer.
How are Companies Using This Commodity?
Google’s parent company Alphabet reported advertising revenues of $33.9 billion in the third quarter of 2019. That is more than 75% of the total revenue of $40.5 billion. Other companies like Facebook have also reported advertisement revenue in billions of dollars.
“Targeted Marketing” is the reason behind the massive growth in digital marketing efforts made by companies. It also increases the revenue of key players. Facebook shows you links to eCommerce sites that you have previously visited. Instagram advertises products based on your previous shopping history. Google shows your results customized to your location and your search history. Historical data related to every single person on the internet is now stored by tech giants. They are for more focused marketing efforts that have proven to produce higher conversion rates.
Larger the Life Data Sets- Big Data
Due to the rise of massive data-sets, a new term has been coined- big-data. Big data engineering is one of the latest technologies that companies are using to analyze massive datasets that can range in PetaBytes of data. Social media websites like Twitter and Facebook usually offer a continuous feed. Whereas most other websites see an update in their sites from time to time. Some of the applications in the industrial sector has been-
- Use of Big Data in Supply Chain Management
- Big Data Analytics working as a driver for Product Development
- Risk management using Big Data
- Targeted advertising and marketing efforts
- Boosting Customer Acquisition and retention
With cheaper cloud-based infrastructure and new age web scraping methods, every company is trying to make the most of the data boom.
Even the IT industry is seeing a shift in paradigm
The Y2K bug brought about a massive boom in the IT sector and created a huge demand for coders, web-developers, and engineers. Today, there’s a shrinking service industry as more and more tasks are getting automated. At the same time, there’s a high demand for data scientists and engineers and as per some reports, the demand is only going to grow.
The reason behind this is that the tools used by companies to provide a better experience to users. It is to keep them from fast switching to automated systems- such as chatbots and recommended engines. Just imagine a person sitting on the other side of the computer, going through the shows that you have watched in the past and using the data to recommend to you other shows and movies. If that was the case, would you still have preferred Netflix? Just imagine the manpower required for that sort of implementation, and how prone it would have been to errors. That’s the reason why companies have moved over to data. They have systems that can consume and give meaningful results and decisions.
A thing to note here is that it is usually a depreciating asset unless it is an undisclosed secret altogether. The value is highest at the moment it has produced. And if you can get your hands on it at that very moment, then you can be the first one to leverage them to build something upon it. Scraping the web, or collecting from IoT devices is not enough. Many large companies are sitting on mountains of information but have no idea how to put them to use.
In case you are just starting with predictive algorithms, or machine learning and want to test out your theories with some, DataStock is a good place to start. It is a service offered by our team at PromptCloud, which offers ready to use datasets. Datasets range from pricing data of Walmart to hotel-prices of the top hotel aggregators.
Both free and paid datasets, downloaded in a matter of seconds, once you sign up. While it is ever-expanding and new uses are coming up every day. In a way, it is as powerful as nuclear energy. It is only up to man as to how he uses it.