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“Don’t Throw Any Data Away”

June 29, 2012 by admin


At this week’s big data summit held in London, a common view was that companies should be very careful before making the decision to throw any data away as there is potentially immense value in what is known as the “data exhaust.”

For many months now, I have been promoting big data and emphasizing just how important it is that the data is used for the right reasons and in the right way, so it was great to read about my peers giving similar opinions. Professor Mark Whitehorn, who is the chair of analytics at the University of Dundee in Scotland, said that “even information which might seem insignificant, can be incredibly useful with the correct use.”He went on to say “Google decided to keep all the information from users’ spelling mistakes which most people would discard. They looked into what was typed and what the user was trying to say. From this, they have established that they can still direct users to where they want to go, this is an effective use of data and something that Google should be applauded for. They have effectively created the most powerful spellchecker in the world just by using data that others would have thrown away.”

Professor Whitehorn gave a second example of effective data usage, saying “When you put your PIN into a cash machine, you put it in at a very precise speed because you know it. If someone steals your card, they’re highly unlikely to enter it at a similar speed so banks can use this as a further method of authentication.”

Both of these are fine examples of collecting and using data for positive means. If you have the capacity to take in information, go through it all and turn it into something tangible and beneficial, you’ve done your job and made the investment in big data technology a cost effective one.

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