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Deep thought on big data
CITIES create jobs, housing and data. From bus routes to shopping habits, large clusters of people produce huge trails of information about their preferences and choices in any given week. Smart cities are ones in which authorities use these data to inform schemes for their smooth running.
An Economist debate starts today on whether smart cities are in fact as clever as they’re cracked up to be. Some companies, such as IBM, see huge value in collecting and analysing the vast quantities of data people produce.
“By one estimate there will be 5,200 gigabytes of data for every human on the planet by 2020. And powerful new computing systems can store and make sense of it nearly instantaneously. A new generation of “cognitive” systems, built for big data, can keep up with the flood because they aren’t programmed, they learn—from their own experience and from our interactions with them.”
Cognitive systems can scrutinise structured information, such as databases, and unstructured information such as medical imaging and social media content, much faster thanks to cloud computing. Firms will become “smarter enterprises” as a result, according to Ms Rometty:
“These firms will do the things that organisations have always done: make decisions, create value and deliver value. But they will do them in new ways.
1 Smarter enterprises will make decisions by capturing data and applying predictive analytics, rather than just relying on past experience. We see this today in advanced decision-support systems like those enabling Rio de Janeiro, Singapore and other cities to become smarter. In my own company we are applying analytics to acquisitions, employee retention and real-estate decisions.
2 Smarter enterprises will create value by infusing intelligence into what they produce and how they produce it. Familiar products will become smarter, from cars to crops.
3 Smarter enterprises will deliver value not to demographic segments, but to individual human beings. This signals “the end of the average” in a firm’s relationships with customers…"
2014 may be the year which sees firms truly tailor themselves to employees, customers and clients as individuals. Cognitive systems, and their big data, will bring big change.