Why Spiderman was right all along about Big Data

3 min read

Data has been making the headlines lately, and not for the right reasons.

Mark Zuckerberg found himself testifying in front of the U.S Congress last week defending the use of user data to enhance the Facebook experience and even Donald Trump isn’t immune to public scrutiny regarding the role of data in the U.S General Election. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has shone the spotlight on big data and just how powerful it can be to influence behaviour, attitudes and even votes.

People are outraged but in the background, brands around the world over are bemused. Using user data to deliver more relevant experiences and content is the lifeblood of sites like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify.


The power of big data in everyday life

The Cambridge Analytica story is an example of when the use of big data goes bad. The majority of uses of big data are positive and help enhance our everyday lives. In fact, the influence that big data has on our lives is often invisible.

Big data technology has revolutionised many industries: retail, healthcare, banking, utilities, transportation and even policing.

As Uncle Ben from Spiderman famously said ‘“With great power, comes great responsibility” and the examples that follow are companies that are starting to prove that.


Data as a force for good

 Big data can also keep our streets safer and us healthier.

The UK police force is increasingly adopting the use of big data to predict areas where crime is likely to occur, the risk of a particular individual re-offending and to better understand specific crime problems and the patterns behind it. Big data here informs resource allocation of police officers to areas that need it most and assist in developing preventative policing strategies.

The NHS is also exploring how big data can help address an aging population and the proliferation of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Crunching the numbers at scale and across the whole of the UK helps the NHS to identify patients at risk, intervene early and improve health outcomes for patients. Big data has the potential to revolutionise the way we run health and social care.

And it doesn’t stop there.

There’s also a new wave of data philanthropy that’s catching on.  Big brands are sharing Big Data for benevolent use to charities, NGO’s and countries where the insight that Big Data can provide, makes a real difference.

Examples include;

  • Mobile phone geolocation data has been used to analyse the spread of malaria in Kenya, while anonymised emails have been mined to provide insights on global migration patterns.

  • The GSMA, which represents mobile operators worldwide, launched its Big Data for Social Good Initiative which leverages data from members to help aid agencies tackle issues like disease epidemics.

  • Uber's new Movement platform shares anonymised data from over two billion trips to urban planning around the world.

It is use cases of Big Data like these that start to restore the faith in the opportunity that it offers.


Big data and recruitment

In recruitment, big data - when done properly - is a huge opportunity.

The recruitment industry is beginning to sit up and take notice of the crucial role data plays in new digital hiring processes.

It’s becoming a necessity for recruiters to be able to understand the role and opportunity that ‘big data’ gives them. The best recruiting teams are using data in conjunction with artificial intelligence to surface the right candidates. Data and AI is accelerating screening processes and adding insight to assessing candidates fit that isn’t possible at scale and in short time frames, without the use of data. It's even being used to attract the right candidates. 

For candidates, data and AI offers an unparalleled opportunity not possible with the traditional CV. It allows them to showcase their true skills and competencies to potential employers in a way that better represents who they are and what they’re capable of.

Big data is a good thing for everyone involved. Recruiters save time and money, companies find candidates who are the best ‘fit’ much more quickly and candidates find careers of their dreams.

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