Don’t miss the Big Data boat, firms are warned

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​The University of Hull is hosting ​a one-day workshop ​today to explore the challenges and opportunities for businesses ​to tap into Big Data​ – ​​sets of data that are too large and complex to process ​using standard methods.

​The university said the Making Connections with Big Data​ workshop will also ​give participants the chance to become founder members of the Hull Big Data Network​, which will promot​e​ knowledge sharing between industry and academia. ​

The workshop will be aimed at a wide variety of businesses, ​​f​rom retailers hoping to gain new insights into customer preferences​ ​to health providers ​tracking the effectiveness of ​their campaigns .

Event co-organiser Professor Richard Vidgen sa​id that many organisations don’t know what to make of Big Data and many are worried they ​have “​missed the boat”.

Another concern is whether this information has​ any value and relevance to them​.

The workshop​, organised jointly by Hull University Business School and the Department of Computer Science, aims to answer these questions​​.

​Prof Vidgen, a data science specialist whose work is concerned with learning and applying best practice in Big Data implementation​,​ said the event will bring ​together ​business managers from the private and public sectors alongside leading academics.

“Big Data is so important these days because so much more data is being generated,” he said.​

​“​Every click of a mouse can be recorded on a website. This becomes even more significant when you consider the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ – the smart devices and sensors that can be embedded in everything from fridges to clothing to Google Glass – that allow us to collect torrents of data in real time.

“Add to that the increasing prevalence of social media and you have an unprecedented resource that businesses can potentially extract value from to make better business ​​decisions and increase profits.”

​The workshop will tell delegates that with the advent of new cost-effective storage and predictive media, the ability to exploit data is within the reach of small to medium-sized enterprises.

​“​Big Data should be regarded as a business project as opposed to an IT function to bring real business benefit​,” said Prof Vidgen.​

​P​articipants will hear from speakers who have successfully implemented Big Data projects.

Prof Vidgen added: “Every organisation of every size, whether public or private, can create more value from their data resource.

“​C​ompanies that can become data-driven and practise evidence-based management will make better decisions, transform their business models, and ultimately out-compete and out-survive companies that don’t.”

Prof Vidgen’s research subjects range from a television company whose accurate predictions of viewers’ socio-economic class allowed it to charge more for online adverts, to credit card companies considering using mobile phone location data to reduce fraud and a public transport provider looking to persuade passengers to travel at non-peak times.