How We Make Big Data an Even Bigger Force for Good

Published: December 7, 2015 by Craig Boundy

Through Experian’s long-standing partnership with the UCI Paul Merage School of Business, I had the pleasure of participating recently in UCI’s Distinguished Speaker Series. I spoke about the role big data plays in today’s economy, and how data is being used as a force for good.

My message to the 300+ attendees was clear – big data is everyone’s business. And it’s only going to get bigger. We have 90% more data today than we had just 2 years ago. What will happen in the next 2 years, much less the next 10? As big data gets bigger, how can we use it in even better ways, as a much greater force for good in society?

Where we’re headed

In the next decade, I predict that:

  1. Every single industry – from food service to entertainment to technology to retail – will be using big data in some way. We’re moving quickly in that direction already. A recent Gartner survey found that three-quarters of companies plan to invest in big data over the next 2 years.
  2. We’ll be using big data to cure big diseases. I believe we can fully cure cancer and HIV, among others, if we can tap into new insights from wearable technologies and genetic mapping, and put all that data to good use.
  3. Big data will help our economy improve. The presidential candidates may argue about the best way to create jobs and increase wealth, but any way you look at it, big data has to be a part of it. The more we can capture trend data on spending patterns and investment returns, the more we can be smart about where we spend our tax dollars, and even how we manage our personal finances.

In other words, big data is going to become the backbone of society in ways we least expect today. Sometime in the future, when you go to a museum or an art gallery, big data will make your experience  more personal, more customized, and more relevant to your interests. We’re starting to see hints of this now. Think of how you might receive coupons on your phone for cheaper drinks at the ballpark food counter, because your phone realized you were at the game.

“But I think we’re going to take this to an even higher level.”

Imagine if we could add virtual reality to your experience – so that, when you walk into an art museum, your phone generates a hologram of your favorite artist. Overall, you’ll be getting a lot more value out of your everyday experiences.

Some of the best uses of big data will be in the public sector, an area we’re already achieving significant benefits. Right now, big data is helping to improve public services, transportation and land use. Of particular interest these days, big data is helping to protect public safety in large crowds. And it’s helping people at hospitals figure out how to pay for their care, and pinpointing the most cost-effective payment plans. I think opportunities for big data will continue to expand within the public sector.

How we get there

But this will only happen if we take the right steps now:

  1. We all need to keep learning. This is the message I emphasized with the audience at UCI. No matter where you are in your career, it can only help to sharpen your skills in data and insights analysis. There’s more to discover, every day.
  2. Develop policies that encourage data-sharing. We can only benefit from big data if we make it easy for companies and governments to exchange the type of information that will ultimately make our world better. We have a tremendous responsibility to help implement policies that support that goal.
  3. Look beyond the obvious. Keep thinking of new sources of data and new applications for it. We’ll all benefit from thinking creatively.

That’s the focus we’ve been taking at Experian. One example is our DataLabs, where we are using breakthrough experiments to take risks, so we can do good things with data on behalf of our clients. And we think the world will be better in the long run because of it.

Watch these video excerpts from this event:

Using Big Data For So Much More

How is Big Data Helping Entrepreneurs

Big Data Hurdles


Craig Boundy is the CEO of Experian North America

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