4 Breakthrough Uses for Big Data and Why You'll Benefit From Them

4 Breakthrough Uses for Big Data and Why You'll Benefit From Them
đź‘‹ Hi, I am Mark. I am a strategic futurist and innovation keynote speaker. I advise governments and enterprises on emerging technologies such as AI or the metaverse. My subscribers receive a free weekly newsletter on cutting-edge technology.

Big data analytics used to be reserved for large enterprises with deep enough pockets to fund both the IT infrastructure and the data scientists necessary to derive insight from massive data collections. Sure, smaller companies might collect or gain access to big data, but getting actionable information from it was an enormous challenge.

ll types, city engineers have learned how to read clusters of data to determine where rats are likely breeding so sanitation crews know where to direct their efforts. Their algorithm uses 31 variables related to resident complaints about problems like food poisoning cases and overflowing trash containers. In many cases the city can address rodent infestations days before ordinary citizens ever notice a rat. Chicago wants every service agency to have big data analytics by 2016, with capabilities on par with leading smart cities like Seoul, Barcelona, and Amsterdam.

3. Higher Crop Yields

Data analysis can now be used by individual farmers to improve yields.

A few years ago, engineers Craig Rupp and Corbett Kull designed a $500 drive that collects data from farm equipment and beams it to a mobile device, where it's geo-tagged by an on-board GPS. Farmers can either view data in real time, or collect the numbers from the cloud later and gain insight into, for example, which locations are receiving too much fertilizer. Now big data analytics is being touted as the next revolution in agriculture. A San Francisco-based company called Climate bought Rupp and Kull's business and it now combines climatology data analysis with farm data collected from the field to improve farming productivity further.

4. Discovering Unexpected Drug Interactions

Scientists from Stanford and Columbia Universities as well as Microsoft used big data analytics on search engine queries to identify previously unreported prescription drug interactions before such information could reach the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By examining queries related to an antidepressant and a cholesterol lowering drug, the researchers' data analysis found evidence that the drug combination caused high blood sugar levels. Normally, the FDA only learns of adverse effects when physicians notice something and report it. However, search engine data analysis was able to automate discovery of this drug-drug interaction by identifying individual searches on the drugs, searches on both drugs together, and relevant searches about symptoms.


Small businesses are no longer excluded from the big data analytics scene due to breakthroughs that help eliminate the need for doctorate-level data scientists and massive IT infrastructure investments. Moreover, big data isn't just about predicting consumer behaviour, but is being put to work addressing disasters, running cities better, helping farmers increase production, and alerting medical professionals to problems well before they might know about them otherwise.

Image Credit: iDesign/Shutterstock
Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam is The Digital Speaker. He is a leading strategic futurist who thinks about how technology changes organisations, society and the metaverse. Dr Van Rijmenam is an international innovation keynote speaker, 5x author and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Datafloq and the author of the book on the metaverse: Step into the Metaverse: How the Immersive Internet Will Unlock a Trillion-Dollar Social Economy, detailing what the metaverse is and how organizations and consumers can benefit from the immersive internet. His latest book is Future Visions, which was written in five days in collaboration with AI. Recently, he founded the Futurwise Institute, which focuses on elevating the world’s digital awareness.