How Data and Decisions Work Together

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Decision making always carries risks. In the past, businesses and other organizations relied on anecdotal experience and education to make sound decisions, but big data offers a better solution. Learn how business owners, health care professionals, and others can turn to data analytics when they face important choices.

Commercial Data Can Drive Economic Decisions

data and decisions

Image via Flickr by NEC Corporation of America

Although big data has only begun to dominate news headlines and infiltrate board meetings, this concept is not an entirely new phenomenon. Mark Doms, the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the United States Department of Commerce, reports that the government has collected data on patents, population, and weather since 1790.

Doms outlines ways that businesses can take advantage of government data to fuel their commercial pursuits. He reveals that the Department of Commerce alone generates 20 terabytes (TB) of data in any given 24-hour period. Additionally, businesses can collect their own data to drive decision making, whether they’re launching a new product or expanding into a new market.

Personalized Medicine Can Lead to Better Decisions in Health Care

Businesses and health care facilities that collect big data can personalize their approaches to patients and customers. An article archived in the U.S. National Library of Medicine from February 2015 explores the ways in which big data technology can contribute to personalized medicine.

The article’s authors, Maryam Panahiazar, Vahid Taslimitehrani, Ashutosh Jadhav, and Jyotishman Pathak, assert that personalized medicine seeks to make clinical decisions that are “predictive, personalized, preventive, and participatory.” Big data allows health care professionals to test the results of therapies, monitor drug usage more closely, and predict the outcomes of medical intervention.

Writing for Forbes, David Jonker, the senior director of product marketing for SAP, cautions that while big data can make connecting with customers more personal, businesses and health care workers must also respect the public’s privacy. Health care professionals must find ways to use big data while still operating with a strict code of ethics.

Businesses Must Find Ways to Overcome Big Data Challenges

While big data offers a variety of applications across multiple industries, it also presents certain challenges. Program analyst Kendrick Daniel points out that businesses must find ways to integrate data into all of their organizations’ systems and to process data from multiple sources.

Kendrick reports that the most successful organizations use big data to drive decision making. When business owners trust the data they collect and apply that data to real-world choices, they essentially allow human behavior to inform their decisions. The more data they collect, the more carefully they must work to draw conclusions.

Examining Big Data and Decision Making in Action

Many businesses already use big data to make critical decisions. IBM has curated a list of companies that have deployed big data solutionsto positive results. Vestas, a Denmark-based wind energy company, analyzes weather patterns and other environmental data to decide where to place wind turbines, while crop technology firm Becker Underwood uses business analytics to make better supply chain decisions and changes.

Although big data cannot offer all the information required for decision making in business, it offers valuable information that decision makers can use to inform their strategies.