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Big Data: Unleashed

In its forthcoming report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) Connecting data: driving productivity and innovation, the IET and Academy suggest that the UK is strongly placed to develop a leading data-enabled economy through the use of data analytics, supported by advanced data connectivity.

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We are living in a data explosion, where over 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. We generate and consume data faster than ever before as a result of the increasing use of computers, sensors, and other digital medians.

Everyday citizens unknowingly add to big data sets by their actions, for example by using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, through online purchasing, through health apps on their smartphones, via online banking and finance platforms, to name a few examples.

In its forthcoming report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) “Connecting data: driving productivity and innovation”, the IET and Academy suggest that the UK is strongly placed to develop a leading data-enabled economy through the use of data analytics, supported by advanced data connectivity.

With the rapidly declining cost of storage coupled with the emergence and decreasing cost of the communications technologies at the core of the internet, big data has come into existence as a result.

This has enabled the storage and harvesting of data as users physically transact or access remote network services by both fixed and, increasingly, mobile devices.

Big data  

Opportunities

The IET/RAE Connecting data study, due to be published in the Autumn of 2015, has shown that, while there are best practice examples where big data and data analytics have been successfully applied, the area is still largely immature and there remains great potential for innovation and value generation in future years, to the benefit of business and society as a whole.

Opportunities to solve broader societal challenges by making links across sectors are plentiful: smart cities will require the effective sharing of data between sectors including transport, energy and the built environment, in combination with novel sources of data such as that generated by social media or crowd-sourcing.

New wearable technologies and mobile applications are changing approaches to wellbeing and healthcare.

A discussion of the opportunities across a range of sectors will be given in the Connecting data report along with case studies illustrating successful applications of big data.

 

Risks

In our rush to embrace the opportunities of big data, we may be overlooking the challenges that big data poses, including the way companies interpret the information, manage the data and find the necessary talent to make sense of the flood of new information.

There is a higher probability for privacy invasion, greater financial exposure in fast-moving markets, greater potential for mistaking noise for true insight, and a bigger risk of spending lots of money and time chasing poorly defined problems or opportunities.

Cyber security concerns affect organisations across virtually all industries, including retail, finance, communications and transportation.

While guidance is becoming more available to organisations, more still needs to be done to educate the average user.

 

Unlocked

The world’s data is exploding in unparalleled velocity, variety, and volume. It is now available almost immediately, creating possibilities for near real-time analysis.

The future looks incredibly exciting with big data, but in order to succeed we must create the right conditions that will allow data analysts and engineers to experiment and flourish.