Sectors where Big Data is playing an increasingly dominant role and driving success

In the last 30 or so years, the web, computers and tech have completely transformed modern life and business as we know it. As we increasingly move more and more of our lives online and come to rely on tech for everything from communication to shopping, technology is becoming interwoven into all aspects of society.


The rise of the web, social media, apps and cloud networking has increased our production of data exponentially. Indeed, it’s estimated that around 90% of data in existence was produced in the last two years and experts suggest we now produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day (for reference, the figure of a quintillion contains 18 zeros).

How data analysis is shaping the world

With businesses and individuals producing so much data, it’s little wonder many industry experts claim data is now the world’s most valuable commodity – ahead even of traditional heavy-hitters like oil and gold. Data can give business owners valuable insights and knowledge of their processes and customers in ways never before imaginable and allow them to make accurate predictions and forecasts for everything from supply and demand to expected profit margins.

Online master degree programs in data science are helping the data analysts of the future devise and invent exciting new predictive models that will be applied across all sectors. Indeed, the data analyst sector is one of the fastest-growing areas in employment with huge demand for individuals skilled in producing, interpreting and acting upon data.

Below are just some of the areas where data production and analysis are helping transform methodologies and streamline operations.

Data in sports

It’s no coincidence that previously, seemingly unbeatable world records keep tumbling in sporting events. As data analytics and player management programs come to play an increasingly important role in sports, so performances improve.

Data is used in sport for everything from monitoring an individual player’s performance to monitoring their output and developing tailored exercise and nutrition plans. Attention to detail on this level is helping shape the athletes of the future at a very young age. The old saying, “Practice makes perfect” doesn’t really apply if the techniques the player is practicing are incorrect. Data analysis helps coaches and managers pinpoint areas for development, in turn leading to better sportsmen and women.

Off the field, data is also used in sports to gauge attendance, improve marketing and target advertising so it hits just the right market at the right time. It is also used in everything from in-depth sports TV coverage with detailed stats to helping betting merchants make informed choices on odds. The applications of data in sport are almost unlimited and are unlocking areas and bringing previously unimaginable benefits.

Data in healthcare

Through a combination of rising costs, increasing patient numbers and longer life expectancy, the healthcare industry has come under increasing pressure in almost all countries around the world and now faces an almost impossible conundrum – how to find ways to do more with less.

However, by drawing on the vast intelligence that can be gained from harvesting and interpreting data, health professionals can devise systems to improve patient care and prioritize those most in need. This was brought into clear focus recently with the coronavirus outbreak, where doctors used applications to collate patient data so they could put those most in need at the front of the queue when it came to receiving treatment.

As data continues to play a more dominant role in healthcare procedures, so it is also managing to link information from seemingly disparate sources to improve the care patients receive. For example, predictive analysis can draw links between AI-powered x-rays and nurse diagnostics to help doctors prescribe the best course of treatment. It is also being used to weigh the relevant risks/benefits of treatments such as renal care.

Data in retail and e-commerce

One sector where the benefits of data analysis are abundantly clear is in e-commerce and retail. By gaining a greater understanding of their markets, retailers and manufacturers are now far better at predicting potential supply and demand problems to reduce waste and improve profitability.

However, data in commerce goes far beyond just studying stock figures. Rather, by gaining insight into shoppers themselves, retailers can effectively target their clients through media ranging from online and offline advertising to TV promotions and traditional print campaigns.

Loyalty cards take this insight a step further by collating data on individual shopping habits while e-commerce and monitoring applications used on e-com sites enable retailers to prioritize in-demand products higher up pages, run promotions, etc.

While this deep understanding of clients improves the shopping experience, it has been of tremendous benefit to retailers. For example, storing and studying previous purchasing behavior allows online retail giant Amazon to offer suggestions on other products that might be of interest. This tactic (among several others) has helped Amazon become the world’s second-largest retailer  – and many would argue it’s just a question of time until it becomes the biggest.

Data in manufacturing

Manufacturing may have been slow to react to the trend towards digital transformation and might have previously been viewed as fairly low-tech, but times are changing quickly. Data now plays a pivotal role in the majority of production companies allowing firms to take an overhead view of their processes and gain an end-to-end understanding of the production cycle. This knowledge can be applied in everything from sourcing materials and day-to-day operations right through to supply management.

One of the most common ways data is transforming manufacturing is through the use of sensors that can help minimize downtime and prevent potentially costly repairs.

However, the most intriguing data applications in manufacturing are only now emerging with the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is essentially a network of smart devices capable of gathering, sending, receiving, interpreting and acting upon data.

The IoT is arguably the next great disruptor in manufacturing and production and has the potential to completely up-end the entire sector. Combine the IoT with the increased use of robots in all aspects of manufacturing and we could soon be looking at completely automated production – all controlled and monitored by computers, applications and smart devices.