Big Data Is Growing, But So Are Privacy Concerns

The term ‘Big Data’ refers to an industry that analyzes large amounts of complex information, searching for ways to capture, analyze, and utilize it to build models and solve problems. For software and hardware tech giants like Google, IBM, and Oracle, Big Data is the next logical step in enterprise computing. But while Big Data is an attractive field with impressive growth and new opportunities in behavioral analysis, its evolution also depends on addressing concerns about privacy in the data that’s collected.

Big Data’s impressive forecast

According to IDC, Big Data service offerings are expected to continue soaring in revenue, with 2015 expecting up to $16.9 billion for the industry—a huge increase from the $3.2 billion earned just five years ago. When combined with ongoing analytics revenue, Big Data is expected to have up to a staggering $125 billion in total spending for 2015. Meanwhile, firms are working harder to draw information from an ever-growing Internet while balancing industry and information growth.

Behavioral innovations in Big Data

Along with huge economic growth, what’s also changing for Big Data is the ways in which information is used to answer complicated questions that extend into social and behavioral thinking. For example, firms like Sogeti see value in making decisions about everything from advertisements to marketing materials with the help of Big Data analytics—as long as those same analytics are grounded with other forms of more heuristic and human-oriented research. The idea is to improve traditionally sourced information, using Big Data to experiment in enhancing these ongoing processes.

The International Institute for Analytics also sees huge potential in Big Data and its ability to augment ongoing traditional analytics systems. What it refers to as the “Analytics of Things” notes the industry’s interest in discovering new and unique data, as well as the creative solutions that could come from them. Ultimately, Big Data supports all elements of an analytics operation, and with powerful storytelling can greatly enhance a project’s informational depth and scope.

The problem with privacy and Big Data

Despite the widespread support of Big Data innovations, a serious concern still exists with respect to privacy of information. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how firms like Google collect information during their user experience, and then store and use the information for Big Data analytics.

For example, according to data collected by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, major tech firms like Google possesses at least 1 million petabytes of data, equivalent to 1 billion 1 terabyte hard drives—the capacity of a high-end PC.

There are also many unknown factors about how information is stored securely and then used or sold for Big Data analytics. These mysterious policies are often only addressed on a case-by-case basis, through a company’s privacy policy.

This could change, especially since the concern has attracted the attention of government agencies. The United States Government, through the White House, recently released a report detailing its concerns about privacy with respect to Big Data operations. Although optimistic and supportive of Big Data as a business model, the report recommended to the President of the United States that stricter laws be passed detailing how private information can be collected and stored legally.

Big Data’s next big step

With impressive growth, new potential applications, and high hopes from top tech firms, Big Data continues to soar as a powerful enterprise computing solution for just about any question on a company’s mind. Still, Big Data’s success also depends on how the industry addresses ongoing concerns from governmental bodies and advocacy firms about how information is collected and then bought or sold. Firms will address these opportunities and issues over the next few years as Big Data continues serving its purpose as an essential tool in any business intelligence arsenal.

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