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Information Please


  The modern world has become overloaded with information.

  Most people now have unlimited data at the tips of their fingers throughout the day. As the unprecedented access to data changes the way we live our lives, many haven’t realized that with every online click and page load, they are creating data which might be collected and exploited.

  When a user scans a QR (Quick Response) code with a smart phone or browses a social media site like Weibo, the user’s consumption habits, preferences and even contact lists might be collected by data capture tools. The data is analyzed and harvested by businesses to provide highly customized and targeted goods and services.

  Regardless of whether you’re prepared, the world has entered an era of “big data,” in which a massive volume of information, including text, images, audio, and video, are collected, analyzed, processed, and capitalized on as intangible assets.

  Changing Lives

  In fact, big data has already transformed daily life. For instance, Taobao.com, the most popular online shopping website in China, has already established a cloud computing center utilizing the technology to analyze customer habits to improve the effectiveness of its marketing and sales efforts throughout the year and make rational decisions.

  Through the use of IBM’s big data platform, Trident Marketing, a direct sales firm, has gained unprecedented insight into consumer tendencies. Based on predictive analytics, its sales staff knows the best time of the day to call customers: when they are likeliest to have free time and a good mood. This has helped the company multiply its revenue by 10 over only four years.

  “Previously, decisions were made based on experience and market surveys,” explains Han Yaoqiang, an analyst from the China Center for Information Industry Development. “Predictive analysis of big data enables decision-making to be more scientific and rational.”

  The technology has also been applied to medical care. IBM’s Watson supercomputer can suggest as many as 20 likely diagnoses based on a patient’s medical records, symptoms, and lab results. The doctor can also factor in clues he or she picks up to further enhance diagnostic efficiency and accuracy.

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