How big data benefits businesses today
Big data is the new way companies can find revenue sources and expand their reach. Whether they are looking for ways to cut costs or save money or bring in new customers, understanding data and being able to analyze it is the key.
While some Canadian companies have been slow to gravitate towards the use of big data, certain industries have already begun recognizing the benefits. Retailers, banks, and energy producers are taking advantage of big data.
Companies such as Schneider National and GE are using big data to find out valuable information about their customers. They put sensors in areas to capture data so they can make changes to benefit their customers and the businesses.
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How big data benefits businesses today
As companies learn how to utilize big data, they will see the benefits of collecting more information. Customers like to share their thoughts on products as well as their likes and dislikes. This information can be used to create new products and services and improve existing ones.
Companies can take information they learn about certain demographics to create a custom advertising approach. This approach works even when a product appeals to a wide range of people.
For instance, even though both single mothers and retired men buy automobiles, the reasons they buy and the kinds of vehicles they purchase are different. By using big data, auto dealers can create individual ads to target the needs of both groups.
Big data can improve customer service and enhance marketing; it can change the design and function of products. It helps businesses grow and be successful as they stand out against their competition.
However, there is still some concern among businesses about the security of such data. Companies that have access to large amounts of information from their customers must protect it.
Challenges of big data
Other challenges include the ability to organize and analyze data. Capturing and storing data is also expensive, and businesses must determine how much they will need and how and where they will store it. They must stay focused on the big data bottom line.
Ethics is another aspect of big data. From video to other data capture, it can infringe on people's rights. This not only affects customers but employees and even the public in certain situations. Constant monitoring may not always be in everyone's best interests.
The increase of wearable technology will present more opportunities to capture data, but it can also take away people's rights to privacy.
You can already see this with smartphones that take pictures and people don't even realize that they are being captured on video or in pictures. One of the unintentional results of big data may be that it will not be as accurate as people would like to believe. For example, as people realize that their every move is being watched, they may alter their online personality to protect their privacy.
The end result is that the information they provide may not be the complete truth.
Big data is here to stay and companies need to realize its benefits. At the same time, they must be able to weigh the risks and make preparations to protect them and the data they collect.
About the author
Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including SEO and business technology.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.