There's been plenty of discussion lately surrounding Big Data and what it means. By analysts' definition, it means more than just having mounds of terabytes' worth of data sitting around. Big Data not only pertains to volume, but also the growing velocity (how fast it moves through organizations), variety (structured, unstructured) and variability (how much changes) of information.
But alas, Big Data is just a pile of data until organizations do something with it. Loraine Lawson recently provided six “business-changing” ways new tools and methodologies—such as Hadoop and MapReduce—can help put Big Data to work. (Actually, Loraine provides eight, but two are not relevant to insurance.)
1. Revolutionize enterprise applications. “While there are already plenty of business use cases for Hadoop and Big Data, we still haven’t seen the full implications for these technologies,” says Lawson. “That will change soon as enterprise applications evolve to make better use of Hadoop data stores. There’s a large amount of untapped data sitting in CRM, ERP and other enterprise systems, ripe with possibilities.”
2. Make a better match for customers. Big Data employing Hadoop and MapReduce can cut the processing time involved in sifting through customer records to identify potential markets for new products.
3. Do a better job of reaching customers. “One of the more widely publicized uses for Hadoop is analyzing online user data.... and sending targeted information to users.”
4. Build your own cloud for enterprise applications. Data sets can be pulled into private clouds to serve the requirements of various groups of end users.
5. Make smarter decisions about credit risks. “Hadoop is helping banks more accurately determine someone’s credit worthiness by allowing them to integrate different sorts of data internally for a better measure of credit worthiness. “If they more accurately say yes to people who will pay their loans and no to people who won’t, then that’s a huge benefit to a bank,” Cutting said
6. Build the 'Internet of Things.' “Hadoop and Big Data solutions in general make sensor data more usable, which will pave the way for bringing all kinds of useful gadgets online,” Loraine points out. “By the end of this decade, there will be more than 50 billion sensor-based gadgets online.” In the insurance industry, a classic example would be telematics devices now being placed in cars in exchange for lower premiums.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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