The Human Side of Big Data
Given the massive, perpetual and exponential times we live in and the solid contribution technology has over any aspect of life, we cannot stop wondering what the future holds for us. In a world fired by automation, digitalization and mobilization, where everyone and everything is connected, where performance endeavors to reach perfection, where those who bear the knowledge have supreme power, what we can change is the way we perceive and interpret information because it has the force to transform and revolutionize the world if it is handled by the right hands.
If technology changes our lives, what big data can do for us? Big data represents a myriad of complex and dynamic, structured, semi-structured and unstructured data acquired from digital and traditional sources, coming from inside and outside an organization and which will become the subject of ongoing discoveries and analysis. Data analysis is usually made on a random segment of data and it will lead to the creation of models used to make comparisons with the rest of data.
What is Big Data?
Although the concept is not new, the way it is used makes it revolutionary. What really changed
compared to the traditional form of analysis is the type of data used, the volume and the flow, the
analysis methods and the fundamental motivation. If traditional analytics were focused on the rows-and-columns data format, big data is gathering large amounts of unstructured data coming from transactions (invoices, payment, storage and delivery records), machine data (industrial equipment, sensors, and web logs which are following users’ behavior), social data arising from social media interactions (likes, tweets, views).
The quintessence of big data is not given by the technology, techniques or processes it employs for analysis, but the data itself and the way it is used to society and culture transformations, in empowering people and shaping the future.
Big data unfolds immeasurable prospective for companies and individual to grow. It will empower
managers to take better informed decisions and it will participate in their validation. It will help
businesses remain competitive for a long period of time because big data analysis identifies sustainable trends and seizes growth opportunities. It will also help advertising companies to better select the target audiences; it will enhance the efficiency and engagement of employees in wielding vital tasks and issues.
There is as arduous challenge to sort all the data generated but the result is worth the effort invested because it unveils patterns, trends and connections especially relevant for human interaction and behavior in different social contexts and circumstances. The tasks bounded to big data are: analysis, data curation, search, sharing, transfer, storage, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy.
Big data is a quite confusing and in the same time enlivening term which cannot fit in ordinary
containers. It is too big to fit on a single server, it lacks structure so that it can fit into a row-and-
column database, and it’s ceaselessly flowing to go into a static data warehouse. Its lack of
homogeneity is what challenges us the most. We face conflicting changes and we have to accept that life is offering countless possibilities to develop ourselves to the fullest potential but with the price of making the right choice at the right time.
The major challenge is to puzzle out when is the right time and the right place to make changes. The progress rhythm of technological innovations unfolds uncertainty and disruption. A tumultuous future is associated with shifting needs, transitioning markets and jobs, advance and strategic planning and increased resilience in the face of adversity.
New jobs will replace old, inadequate ones, some old jobs will become obsolete so they will require new approaches or training so that can resist in the demanding businesses, the oil industry will reach its peak, climate changes will coerce organizations to adopt sustainable, advanced manufacturing techniques and strategies, traditional frontiers will continue blurring until there will no limits, only the ones we impose with the power of mind, smart cities driven by wireless networks with plenty of sensors and computers that are processing huge amounts of data will strive to create lower cost and time efficient services, green living will finally validate the term of sustainability through safe and resilient settlements, conscious water, energy and food consumption, eco design comprising of eco-materials such as local raw materials, recycled or recyclable materials, off-grid homes which are using only electric power and are generated by active (solar, wind, thermal, biomass, and geothermal energy) or passive energy system such as green roofs. With technology at our feet, our experiences are becoming more comprehensive and inspiring and we are becoming limitless.
There are also substantial drawbacks that need to be considered and acted upon. The scarcity of
resources makes us ponder how we can improve their usage so we can end or at least reduce hunger and lack of shelter and water in disadvantaged areas or underdeveloped countries, shrink poverty in all its shapes everywhere on Earth and enhance the quality of life and health.
There is a very controversial issue that we have to think about and that is aging population which will bring with it rising healthcare costs. Due to declined fertility and rising life expectancy well-favored by the breakthroughs in medical engineering, the emergence of new treatments, the attention given to lifestyle, especially when it comes to nutrition and sport there have been irreversible changes in the mortality patterns.
This global trend will impact the economic and socio-political stability. An aging population will
determine the downturn of labor force, low fertility rates and enhancement of age dependency ratio.
Shift in the age structure will cause long-term economic repercussions and will shape the emergence of new economic policies. Not only will convert into shallow economic development, but will drastically reshape significant economic areas such as consumption behavior, the housing markets, investment rates and interest rates.
If the dominant population is the old one, we will notice a new trend in the consumption pattern because they are more inclined to spend money on healthcare services, instead of investing in assets or education. As previously mentioned, the price of the houses will decrease on the background of increased age dependency ratio.
As the share of young and working population decreases, there will be fewer investments made on houses. With less people saving and paying contributions for their pensions and health support, the funds for investments in capital will drop.
The trend seems to continue with rising interests rates. Low interest rates are meant to encourage individual and companies to take credits so that they can support their investments. Aging workforce will determine slower economic growth, so there will be no reason for investing. Private pensions and insurances will encourage also a downward path. In order to counteract the effect of rising elderly and the consequences emerging from it, governments will augment taxes and the burden will be supported by the working population.
The question is how big data will respond to these increasing needs and resolutions? We are about to uncover these social dilemmas. We hope that this new trend will pave the way to evolution, not involution. We hope that Big Data will cease or alleviate the humanity most arduous sorrows.