It's All about the Data
In the connected world we live in, data and how it is leveraged to better understand and proactively cater to the needs of end users are becoming crucial competitive factors in defining a company’s success.
The volume, quality, and meaningful interpretations of data are turning out to be important, yet challenging, and companies of all sizes are grappling with the whole idea of Big Data and the associated technologies, development, and testing strategies.
Companies such as Zillow are speaking out that their differentiation against giants such as Google is in part their rich data stores.
Collaborative filtering has existed for quite some time now, especially since the days when e-commerce picked up steam, offering useful suggestions to shoppers on what might be of interest to them based on what other similar shoppers bought or looked at. This has helped both users and online retailers, and continues to be widely used in online shopping. While this is one form in which data has been productively used, collaborative filtering around data is emerging in other proactive ways in the marketplace.
Interest graphs or matrices touch upon users’ interests in all possible areas and connect them with other users of similar interests. These need not necessarily be users who know each other. For example, two people who are not in the same network might have joined the same group on LinkedIn, which is very valuable data for the company in order to make recommendations to connect with people or show other groups that may be of interest.
Social graphs are largely driven by a network of people who know each other—who might in turn know others—by which the network expands. Here again, it is the base data about people and their network that establishes the social graph and allows it to grow larger with unlimited business possibilities.
Semantic web is the next logical step to search where the abundance of data is rightly used in making meaningful suggestions and interpretations for users rather than waiting for instructions from them.
In a Bloomberg TV interview at the 2013 World Economic Forum, Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, extensively touches upon how technology waves have evolved over the last fifteen years—starting off with directory-driven web (initially dominated by Yahoo!), Internet search (initially dominated by Google), social web (dominated by players such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and mobile web (with multiple players currently).
Data has played—and will continue to play—a key role in all of these waves, whether in the form of data warehousing, business intelligence, or now in the form of Big Data. It is in the best interest of each company to understand that it's all about the data and to strategize on how to collect, analyze, secure, and use the data in creating a win-win situation for both its users and itself.