Have you heard about big data recently?

It’s the use of clever software to analyse massive amounts of data. This then reveals patterns and trends which can predict how people will behave.

The following information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider if the relevant investment is appropriate having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. 


Chances are you have come across big data already. Remember the last time you were buying a plane ticket online and you were also shown hotel recommendations?

Before big data most of the hotel recommendations were probably not right for you (too far away, too small) because the website didn’t really know you. This is now changing with some online travel companies analysing millions of past transactions to predict what hotels you’ll book.

For example, their data might suggest customers (probably business travellers) who bought a single plane ticket during the middle of the day also stayed in nice hotels close to the city. So in the future anyone who fits this profile will only be offered well located 4 and 5 star hotels. This is big data at work.

Here are 3 ways we think big data will increasingly change how we live.

1.  Shopping

Every time you go shopping the retailer collects data about you. Overtime this data can be used to create a profile of who you are and predict what you would like to buy. How powerful is this data for retailers?

Here are some real life examples:

  • The big data program at Target in the US is so sophisticated it can predict if a customer is in their early stages of pregnancy. It then sends out offers on pregnancy products to these customers. This caused a situation one time when Target accidentally exposed a teenager’s pregnancy to her family. Oops!
  • Amazon is already great at using big data to recommend products to customers. It is going one step further and already thinking about sending products towards their customers’ locations before they have even bought it. In other words, Amazon thinks the future might not be that far off where they can predict what you would like to buy, even before you can.

Does this mean all the fun will be taken out of shopping?

Not really, we think retailers who use big data will have more loyal customers because they offer a better personalised service. Probably like going to your local café where your favourite barista always knows what drink you want from the menu.

2.  Health

Will big data be used to save lives?

Yes, it will. Big data is already being used to make large health services like hospitals operate more efficiently. The next step for big data is to prevent us from getting sick.

Apple recently agreed to allow users to share the health data collected by their iPhone or Apple Watch with IBM’s supercomputer Watson. All this data will then be analysed and used to provide better personalised programs for improving personal health.

How far will big data go to help us stay healthy? Well, there are already trials underway where medical centres are analysing large amounts of consumer credit card data to predict the chances of someone becoming ill. They will then use these predictions to help high risk patients lead a healthier lifestyle.

3.  Borrowing money

If you have borrowed money before from a bank you know the normal process. The bank asks you the usual questions about your salary and expenses. It makes sense, they want to make sure you can repay the loan.

Big data is starting to change this.

There are now systems that collect thousands of facts on borrowers. This is analysed to predict who the high risk borrowers are. Apparently people who move houses often or who fill out loan applications with just capital letters are statistically riskier borrowers.

In the near future, nearly everything a potential borrower has done might affect whether they can get a loan. So if we can leave you with one tip on big data, don’t use ALL CAPS if you need to fill out a loan application!


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About Kent Kwan

Kent Kwan is a Co-Founder of AtlasTrend, an investment platform that makes it easy for anyone to learn and invest in trends impacting our world. Kent has over 17 years experience in financial markets including as Chief Investment Officer at Arowana International Limited, and roles at JP Morgan and Macquarie.