Memeburn, Stuart Thomas, Aug 23, 2011
In the information age, companies are literally drowning in vast oceans of data. Petabytes of data are being gathered everywhere in the digital age at a furious rate, and by a variety of devices.
Websites and devices that are collecting data on a large scale include ubiquitous information-sensing mobile devices, cameras, microphones, RFID readers, and wireless sensor networks. Most large corporates are sitting on mines of data by virtue of their everyday operations and vast networks. Social networks have also become information goldmines, generating massive amounts of user data.
Harvard Business Review refers to the "Social Data Revolution" , a result of the vast amounts of real-time and archive information emanating from people using and interacting on social networks. Sociologists and researchers are using this social data to "nowcast" and forecast trends such as unemployment, flu outbreaks, travel spending and political opinions in a way that is faster, more accurate and cheaper than government reports or polls.
The thing about all this data is useless unless it is mined and interpreted with the right tools. Memeburn takes a look at five Silicon Valley startups and how they're looking to use Big Data:
1. Rocket Fuel, a digital media targeting company, is looking at the digital advertising business and how data mining is helping to improve results for advertisers. The company applies a wide variety of behavioural, contextual and other measures to improve advertising results.
The company uses various techniques to serve the right ad to the right person and to make those decisions in milliseconds - a tough job especially when you have to query multiple, very massive databases.
2. VirtuOZ provides a virtual agent that is used to provide support to a client's customers by leveraging advanced computer linguistics. The company claims that the virtual agents are so good that people sometimes ask them out on a date even though it's clearly labelled that they are conversing with a software program.
3. Panasas provides storage for high performance data intensive applications. File sizes run into the terabytes just for one file. Customers are dealing with massive amounts of data, such as those in oil, and life sciences.