Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about the digital age is the vast amount of data that is now generated daily. It’s estimated that we create over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every 24 hours, and this number is only expected to grow in the years to come.
This data is generated by everything from our devices and social media interactions to the way we search for information online and the purchases we make. And it’s not just individuals – businesses, governments, and other organizations are also creating and collecting data at an unprecedented rate.
But what does this mean for the world we live in? How is all this data changing our lives and the way we interact with the world around us? Let’s find out.
The web data revolution
To put it simply, having access to such incredible amounts of web data means that we can now make more informed decisions than ever before. In turn, this allows us to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems in more efficient and effective ways – ways that would not even be conceivable without data analytics.
Bright Data’s Web Data Revolution short documentary paints this picture well, demonstrating the myriad ways public web data (when harnessed effectively) can drive real progress across just about every conceivable industry, both private and public.
The short film shows how web data and network analysis played an instrumental role in shutting down a human trafficking operation last year, saving four women from a Chicago apartment.
Web data can potentially change our world in some pretty incredible ways. On that note, let’s look at five areas of life where web data already has a significant impact.
1. Improved healthcare
Healthcare and data go hand-in-hand. After all, it’s only by collecting data on a large scale that we can identify public health trends, track the spread of diseases, and develop new treatments and cures.
Countries all over the world leveraged big data and artificial intelligence to help fight COVID-19 through:
- Detection of existing COVID-19 cases
- Prediction of a future outbreak
- Anticipation of potential preventive and therapeutic agents
- Assistance in informed decision-making
Aside from the pandemic, web data can improve healthcare quality in several ways, such as tracking patients’ vital signs and symptoms remotely, developing personalized treatment plans, and monitoring the effectiveness of treatments over time.
Moreover, web data can make the healthcare system more efficient by reducing administrative tasks, improving communication between different care providers, and streamlining the booking of appointments and tests.
2. Efficient eCommerce
eCommerce has revolutionized our shopping, and web data has played a big role.
Data collected from eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon and eBay, has been used to create powerful algorithms that can predict our preferences and recommend products we’re likely to buy. This has made it easier for us to find the products we want and need and has turned online shopping into a more personalized experience.
What’s more, data collected from our online shopping behavior is also being used to improve the logistics and delivery of products. For instance, by analyzing data on the most popular items, delivery companies can optimize their routes to ensure they can deliver the products as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This subsequently leads to a vastly more efficient supply chain, helping to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.
In addition, web data helps organizations collect and review information about their competitive landscape, a process known as competitive analysis. This can help organizations understand critical statistics, such as what their competitors are offering and charging for their services, compared to their own, and allows them to adjust to market shifts.
3. Increased transparency and accountability
If there is one thing humans (giant corporations and governments) have been notoriously good at throughout history, it’s hiding information.
But with the ever-growing availability of data, that is starting to change.
We have seen many scandals and controversies exposed in recent years thanks to data leaks (such as the Panama Papers and the Cambridge Analytica scandal). This is likely only the tip of the iceberg.
As data becomes more accessible and easy to analyze, it’s becoming easier and easier for journalists, activists, and regular citizens to hold the powerful accountable for their actions.
Moreover, organizations are also starting to use data to increase transparency and accountability internally. For example, some companies use data to track employee productivity, identify potential training and development needs, and flag any unethical or illegal behavior.
Also, sophisticated tools help companies protect intellectual property, such as their brand. For instance, a musician can use web data search tools to get notified whenever their content is uploaded from an unlicensed or unauthorized source.
Retail companies can keep track of sales digital sales data through powerful algorithms which will inform them of any notable chances or concerns, helping them maintain their brand’s integrity.
4. Reduced human error and biases
Despite all our advances, humans are still far from perfect. We’re prone to making mistakes, and our judgments can be clouded by emotional reactions, personal biases, and outside influences.
Fortunately, data can help to reduce the impact of these errors and biases.
Take recruitment, for example, one area famously susceptible to bias, conscious or subconscious.
Traditionally, recruiters would use their judgment to choose the “right” candidate for the job, often relying on factors such as gut feeling, first impressions, and personal preferences. Unfortunately, this can lead to a wide range of discrimination based on factors such as age, ethnicity, gender, and social class.
But by using data-driven methods such as online skills testing and web-based assessment centers, companies can take the personal judgment out of recruitment and ensure that the best candidate is selected for the job, regardless of bias.
This leads to a fairer recruitment process and results in a better match between the candidate and the job, which will likely lead to improved job satisfaction and performance.
5. Unparalleled financial insights
One of the most exciting trends to appear in the world of finance is the widespread use of alternative web data. For those unfamiliar, alternative web data is data culled from non-traditional sources used to help financial institutions, such as investment firms, make better investment decisions and find an edge in the market.
This data includes credit card transactions, social media sentiment, satellite imagery, and anything else that can be found online.
While this data might not seem particularly useful at first glance, investment firms have been able to use it to create powerful predictive models that have given them an advantage over their rivals.
For instance, by analyzing satellite imagery of parking lots at retail stores, firms can predict sales figures and alter investment decisions accordingly before any official data is released.
As mind-blowing as some of these web data applications might seem, the truth is that we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.
The data that is being generated online is growing at an exponential rate, and it is becoming increasingly accessible thanks to advances in technology. This means that the potential uses for web data are practically limitless, and we can expect to see even more impressive applications in the years to come.
So, sit back and enjoy the ride.