The Future of Work: Big Data

By Hånna Andress - January 9th, 2020

big data

Technology is evolving at a rapid pace. The gig economy is expanding, jobs are being automated and reinvented, and gaps in the workforce are already starting to appear. This blog is the second in the Future of Work series, focused on discussing how work will be changing over the next decade, exploring how jobs are designed and how individuals adapt through future-facing career education.

“Listening to the data is important… but so is experience and intuition. After all, what is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?” – Steve Lohr, journalist, New York Times

The era of data saturation is upon us. 

Data is the new oil, and the analyst is the new prospector. 

Our economy relies on a consumer profile, rich in preference indicators. All these indicators boiled down to their component parts contribute to the data that is collected and stored at a massive scale. 

You added an air fryer to your Amazon shopping cart? Now your browser cookies will log your purchase of a kitchen item and may be more likely to respond to an ad on another unrelated website related to household appliances. 

This type of data gathering and circulation is occuring every millisecond of every day. Just imagine: The vast knowledge base in the sheer amount of data being collected and organized in a way that a major corporations can capitalize on detailed information about their own consumers.

Consumer goods use customer relationship management (CRM) systems; healthcare uses electronic health records (EHR) systems. Even our government uses nation-wide databases like the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). And whether you like it or not, our industries are being rapidly re-molded for their data revolution. 

Well-established corporations, like Forbes and IBM, refer to “big data” as this massive institutional shift, yet provide very little information on how this concept will tangibly affect our lives. This deficit of information is not for lack of trying. We define this string of words that we may only hear about during business analytics conferences. 

Perhaps you work in an industry that capitalizes on this concept well, like marketing or consumer goods. As mentioned above, the use of advertisements specifically geared toward the individual was once impossible due to the fact that identifying a singular consumer profile was time-consuming and costly. What was impossible is now possible with the power of algorithms created and run specifically to collect your personal information and compile a profile of your likes and dislikes in a mere few minutes. 

Perhaps your sector is healthcare, where data and analytics are surprisingly just now getting their start. However, with the introduction and use of an electronic health record (EHR), the previous barrier of “no data” has not been remedied through this massive database with all patient information. The most common case for data in healthcare, within the concept of predictive medicine, is being able to identify a medical issue before it even presents itself in symptoms or adverse repercussions. 

Either way, the future of your current sector is reliant on industry leaders’ ability to use data to inform consumer behaviors, predict health outcomes, and/or identify social disparity. Continue to educate yourself on how big data is currently impacting your industry, as these definitions are constantly moving and changing.

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