Just for a minute think about all the digital fingerprints you leave behind on a daily basis. All the credit card transactions, mobile phone calls, Facebook check-ins, online searches, etc.

 


 

Lets take my day today:

  1. Surfed several websites gathering info for a presentation – My connectivity provider (Sprint) and Google added more info about me inside their already significant repositories

  2. Paid a few bills online – Credit card companies not only have my original transactions and buying habits but now they know my payment tendencies as well

  3. Downloaded a movie from iTunes for my trip – Apple adds this to the profile I have been populating for almost a decade

  4. Called my wife from my mobile phone to her car phone – Sprint and OnStar just got some more info about usage time and calling locations

  5. Printed boarding passes for a flight – Southwest knows where I have been, where I’m going and my general flight patterns.

  6. Drove to the airport – Sprint knows roughly the path I took from Home to the airport via my mobile phone switching between cell towers.

  7. Browsed email and some apps on my iPad – Apple and who knows what app developers just gathered access and some location data

  8. Landed in Los Angeles, El Paso & Dallas – Phone turned on at every stop and has tracked some level of information on my location and calls.

  9. Got into rented car and drove to meeting site – Hertz captures the location, type of car, duration etc. Plus Sprint knows roughly where I’m at too.

  10. Checked into room and had dinner – The hotel and credit card companies have that covered and logged.

  11. Browsed a few websites, email and writing an article – The hotel network and connectivity provider logged everyone of them, I promise.

There are probably others I have missed and can tease out but I think you get my point. Just about everything we do today leaves behind digital fingerprints. This trend is not slowing down either. Moore’s law applies here too.  

Implications of Big Data
The implications of so much personal data are profound and are changing how we live today and in the future.

Scientists, mathematicians and technologists have come together and are creating some of the most insightful, powerful and valuable solutions and knowledge we have ever known. This is all made possible because of innovation in computer processing and storage. We have more processing power today that enables us to crunch the vast amounts of data that give us meaningful and actionable insights.

To give you some perspective, think about all the data ever created from the dawn of time up to 2003. Seems like a lot. Well, we create that much data every two days right now. Also consider taking a look at this info graphic (http://tjc.cc/rUFBKx) about how we will generate enough data in 2015 to fill 18 Million Libraries of Congress. 18 million!

Consider the old adage “Birds of a feather flock together”. Credit card companies and lending institutions know this is true because they have been able to mash together demographic data based on your zip code, credit scores and most recently by who are your ‘friends’ in your online world.

The right companies are looking at the credit worthiness of your social connections and making more informed decisions on how likely you are to pay your bills. Telecommunication companies and satellite TV providers mine vast amounts of data to find the most influential customers, socially, and provide very targeted upgrades and specials deals designed to influence their networks.

Analysis of geo-location data in Flickr photos allows insight into traffic patterns within US cities and other locations. Cross reference this with information on where the photographer lives and you can start to map where tourists and locals travel in comparison and contrast to each other. Take a look at these images of various popular cities around the globe (http://tjc.cc/rDq8Nv).

Some amazing work is being done in the study of Big Data. A recent Popular Science article discusses how prediction models have become so accurate that they could predict, with 93% accuracy, the location of just about any individual within a square mile, based on cell phone usage. It didn’t matter if the individual frequently traveled or was a stay at home Mom.

Conclusion
With the explosion of social media, individuals are allowing brands to access all kinds of public and non-public digital fingerprints. This has allowed big data analysis to become more accessible and common place within all size marketing departments. Your organization needs to make the subtle shift into the world of collecting data from online signals, then distilling that information into knowledge that drives insight and then action.

The companies that can harness Big Data and extract precious insights will be the ones creating products and value for clients and consumers on a scale we have never seen before.

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