Emerging economies need to harness the power of Big Data
bdlive.co.za - Aug 22nd 2016, 09:52
MUCH has been written about the power and potential of Big Data and predictive analytics. According to the head of analytics for FNB Business, global challenges and developments are putting more pressure on key business sectors that are sensitive to economic cycles. As a result, the insights gathered from Big Data can help solve some of the biggest global business challenges. Many of these are also applicable to the sphere of government and policy-making.
Emerging economies need to harness the power of Big Data as this can give governments a bird’s eye view and accurate information allowing evidence-based policies to be implemented. Evidence-based policy making is gaining importance in several African countries. Networks of researchers and policy makers in Malawi, Uganda, Cameroon, SA, Kenya, Ghana Benin and Zimbabwe are working hard to ensure credible evidence reaches government officials in time and are also building the capacity of policy makers to use the evidence effectively.
If African governments want to use evidence-based policy making, they need data. Traditionally this would come from long, manpower intensive and costly studies performed by an academic institution or NGO. Technology that has the ability to extract data in real-time from high volume transaction sectors provides a much easier and more efficient solution when it comes to evidence-based policy making. In this era of Big Data there cannot be any excuse for government agencies to lack the appropriate tools for better regulation and evidence-based policy-making — sorely lacking in most governments.
There are many benefits accurate data can bring, and the more data there is the more accurate it is. According to FNB Business, there are several sectors that could benefit from the use of Big Data.
The agricultural industry can utilise data predominantly to increase operational efficiency. In many countries faced with drought conditions and other natural disasters, the agricultural sector needs, more than ever, to optimise what it has, with the assistance of technology and Big Data. Large-scale farmers could implement a system that informs them when their equipment needs repairs or fuel. This can be combined with data on weather patterns, soil conditions, the crops to be planted to develop a formula to determine the best time and place to plant and harvest. Even the most optimal route to plough a field can be gathered from the insights, leading to increased productivity and revenue. Big Data can be used to forecast demand for crops, yield on crops as well as potential land size and usage. When aggregated across geographical regions, this data can be of significant assistance to individual farmers.
The financial services industry can use Big Data analytics to increase their revenue, decrease costs and increase customer satisfaction and retention. It could also be used to foster financial inclusion — an issue in most emerging countries.
The healthcare sector is looking for ways of increasing accessibility to health care services, and improving affordability while maintaining costs. Big Data can be used to determine the best geographic location to place hospitals, along with giving insights into trends and potential solutions in medical research. The prediction of epidemics, assistance in finding cures for diseases and an overall increase in quality of life can all be assisted with the use of Big Data. Applications and devices can monitor health, and assist in self-diagnosis — to a certain degree — while the data can be disseminated to insurance companies which build health, fitness and preventative programmes for their clients and monitor the data through the devices.
The retail sector can take advantage of Big Data to build smart marketing strategies, position products, and capitalise on these insights when expanding to emerging economies.
Governments can accurately measure and improve the effectiveness of their policies and proactively control situations to avoid unnecessary losses of revenue and expense. They can quickly pinpoint exactly where a problem lies, and by rapidly assimilating this insight, the relevant disaster and health teams can then quickly proceed to resolve and remediate the issue — minimising the impact on cost, resources, and human experience.
Recent advancements in technology are now enabling insights to be gained from Big Data so that governments can comprehend accurately what is happening — as it is happening — while incorporating the persistence and post-event capabilities that Big Data is known for.
I believe that emerging economies need to harness the power of Big Data as soon as possible as this could be immensely useful to them — especially in the area of socio-economic development. Emerging countries have limited resources and Big Data can help their governments to use resources effectively and efficiently. Two of the most useful areas where Big Data could play a significant role are agriculture and healthcare — governments could be instantly alerted to early warning signs so that issues can be detected the moment they start to emerge.
In my view, the ability to gain the actionable insights necessary to understand where the problem has occurred, which areas have been impacted, and where, is crucially important for the governments of emerging countries. It could enable them to leapfrog many recurring issues in their countries. In this way, they could be empowered to take effective decisions quickly to bring potentially devastating situations under control before they have the chance to develop. There are many, many applications for Big Data — not least the power it has to facilitate powerful post-event analysis so that similar situations can be avoided in the future or at the least better handled.From DFM Publishers (Pty) Ltd
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