Big Data Will Change Your Life

Siddharth Taparia

Big DataThere’s no denying it: Our data is no longer our own. We examine how Big Data, collected with or without our consent, plays a role in everyday activities like shopping, voting, and studying.

“Big Data” is a term used to describe massive information stores – generally measured in petabytes and exabytes – and also refers to the methods and technologies used to analyze these large data volumes.  The core principles of Big Data (data mining, analytics) have been around for some time, but recent technology has enabled the collection and analysis of previously unimaginable data volumes at extremely high speeds.

The enormous utility and potential of Big Data is well-appreciated by businesses, government, and law enforcement (and hackers and identity thieves), but it’s not well-conceived by the average person.

That may be about to change. For good or ill, the impact of Big Data in our daily lives is growing. Here are just a few examples of how Big Data plays a role in everyday activities:

How we spend

To understand customer buying patterns, retailers rely on the somewhat myopic datasets derived from club-card and loyalty-points programs. To get customers “in the door” they offer mass, deep discounts on “special” shopping days, like black Friday. Big Data is changing all this, enabling retailers to capture, store, and analyze more, and more diverse, data on their customers and the competition. As a result, marketing is becoming more targeted and shopping experiences much more personalized. Real-time offers tailored to where you are and what you tend to buy, and when you tend to buy it, will soon be commonplace.  Already, some online retailers display different prices to different users, based on their purchase history and other data.

How we vote

In 2012, Big Data made, arguably, its first major splash outside the business world, playing a role in the U.S. presidential election. President Barack Obama’s campaign ran what has been referred to as the first Big Data-powered presidential campaign. Instead of using traditional polling – extrapolating from small samplings to gauge the sentiment of voters – the Obama camp collected and analyzed data from huge numbers of actual individuals. This was historic because it upended traditional methods of running campaigns. Mounds of data from surveys, phone calls, external voter lists, and past voting patterns drove real-time voter outreach and get-out-the-vote efforts.

How we study

A number of academic institutions are employing Big Data to address high dropout rates. New technology is enabling school officials to use data – such as standardized test scores, grade histories, and even real-time statistics about what a student clicks on during online classes – to create an individualized academic profile for each student. By applying statistical models to those profiles and measuring them against those of similar students, schools can identify likely outcomes – such as successfully completing a class or major. This helps school officials steer students toward majors and classes in which they are likely to succeed.

How we stay healthy

Healthcare has historically been a difficult domain for analytics, as privacy and regulatory restrictions greatly restrict or outright forbid the use of general patient data in research. The proliferation of smartphones and other medical “self-tracking” devices is, however, changing the landscape. It’s now possible to collect 24/7 data from healthy individuals via these devices, creating a large, unbiased control group that can be segmented by demographics. Insight derived by analyzing these data volumes can help people make healthy lifestyle choices, take preventive measures (e.g., flu vaccinations), and predict their chances of being afflicted with certain diseases. And real-time personal analytics on how a person’s daily behavior impacts their health are likely not far off.

How we safeguard (or forfeit) our privacy 

The potential benefits of Big Data are real and compelling, but so are the risks – among them privacy. The saying goes: You’re not paranoid if someone’s actually after you. The collection, analysis, and sale of personal data – from your shopping habits to which health issues you Google – is a booming business. And an increasing amount of personal data – particularly online and on smartphones – can be, and is, collected without the user’s knowledge or consent.

Still, despite well-founded fears that Big Data could morph into Big Brother, most data collected today is shared willingly. As citizens and consumers become increasingly aware of the impact and proliferation of Big Data, the savvy among them will abandon the ‘ignore-the-man-behind-the-curtain’ strategy in favor of a practical understanding of how data about them is gathered, managed, and used.

This article by Siddharth Taparia was originally published in SAP Business Trends.

Follow Siddharth Taparia on Twitter: @siddharth31




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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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What If Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho Could Be Proved Right In Medical Staff Row?

Mark Goad

Big Data and the Internet of Things brings new level of insight to sports medicine

With the 2015-16 European football (soccer) season underway, we are already seeing the impact of the huge pressure to succeed. In some cases, it is boiling over even this early on, with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho getting involved in a very public row with his medical staff over the treatment of Eden Hazard during a match. As the season builds momentum, all clubs know one of the most vital aspects of winning trophies is keeping the best players fit so they can play at the top of their game as often as possible.

Last season, just like in every season, we saw injuries that affected teams’ results and possibly their final standings at the end of the season, while other teams capitalized. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger blamed injuries for the team’s failed title bid, while Real Madrid suffered injuries to players like Gareth Bale and Luka Modric at a crucial stage of the season and lost the title to Barcelona.

There’s no doubt that football clubs, especially the bigger teams, employ first-rate medical staff – physiotherapists, doctors, sports scientists, and so on – but they can only do so much to keep players off the treatment table. Players are human, after all, and keeping them injury-free for such long and grueling campaigns is a big ask. This season again will see players on the end of crunching tackles, over-exerting their bodies, and over-stretching.

What’s less talked about than lost games and league titles when discussing injuries is the salaries paid to injured players. The estimated average cost of player injuries in the top four professional football leagues in 2015 was $12.4 million* per team. Remarkably, every year teams lose an equivalent of 15%-30%** of their player payroll to injuries.

As salaries continue to rise, injuries are becoming just as much of an off-the-pitch boardroom issue as they are an on-the-pitch issue. Consider that if Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, the world’s highest-paid player, spends just a week out injured, the club still has to pay his weekly salary of around $1 million. Not only that, but there’s the huge potential for lost revenue from missing out on UEFA Champions League progress or domestic success because key players are out.

Just as winning seems to mean more than ever, so does football as a business. So with the spotlight firmly on “sweating the assets” – extracting maximum value from the entire squad – clubs are looking to Big Data and Internet of Things technology to consider how player injuries can be prevented with new levels of insight.

Prevention is better than cure

In July this year we saw what could be a huge landmark in the potential of monitoring the risk of injuries, when football’s international governing body FIFA announced its approval of wearable electronic performance and tracking systems during matches. As well as collecting data on statistics like distance covered and heart rate to determine decisions like substitution timings, this also paves the way for wearable satellite devices that keep medical staff updated on the likelihood of a player picking up an injury from over-exertion.

Emerging injury-risk monitoring software uses the concepts of Big Data and wearable technology to pull in and apply mathematical formulas to an exhaustive range of relevant data about players: fitness levels, recent levels of exertion, opponents, age, technique, hydration, even weather. This could help medical staff predict the risk of future injuries with much greater accuracy, allowing them to run simulations and take corrective actions in real time. Imagine a seemingly non-injured key player being substituted during a tightly contested match, only to find out afterwards that monitoring software had indicated he was at a high risk of pulling a muscle. This could very much be a part of the future of professional football.

Going back to Jose Mourinho and his reaction to the Chelsea medical staff running onto the pitch to treat Eden Hazard, it’s interesting to consider how in the future this kind of technology could either support or discredit his position in the dispute. It could help managers work more closely with physiotherapists, as they can visualize the data that shows the risk of injury to players. Although the pressure to win will likely keep on rising, the risk of expensive players injuries could see a big reduction.

SAP’s own injury risk monitoring software is currently in the proof-of-concept phase and will be entering development in the near future. The goal is to build IRM on the SAP Sports One platform as an additional component, and to provide integration to the existing modules of SAP Sports One solution. SAP Sports One was launched earlier this year and is the first sports-specific cloud solution powered by the SAP HANA platform, providing a single, unified platform for team management and performance optimization.

*Statistic calulated using 2015 Global Sports Salaries Survey

**Bleacher Report “Inside the 2014 Numbers of Each MLB Team’s Regular-Season Injury Impact” and NBA Injury Analysis


Mark Goad

About Mark Goad

Mark Goad, Value Advisory Associate, SAP Canada, is an experienced business analyst with industry coverage spanning telecommunications & retail, with a focus on digital business models. He specializes in synthesizing industry trends with a detailed analysis of client-specific data to help customers build out high-impact business & IT strategies. Outside of work, Mark volunteers as a lead management consultant for Junior Achievement of Central Ontario and contributes to a range of thought leadership publications.


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Three Reasons Why The Internet Of Things Is Showing Hockey Stick Growth

Paul Clark

The already massive amount of data being produced daily is going to proliferate with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). An innovative infrastructure must be able to accommodate the billions of connected devices being introduced worldwide that will generate unfathomable amounts of data.

“Within the next three years, the data created by IoT devices will reach 403 trillion gigabytes annually.”
– 99 Mind-Blowing Ways the Digital Economy is Changing the Future of Business, Source: Cisco, Global Cloud Index

Less than five years ago, Big Data was thought of as a data management challenge. Today, supercomputing power is everywhere, microprocessors are in every device, computers can be scaled as needed, and in-memory, real-time computing solutions are revolutionizing business software. As a result, data volumes are expected to grow to 6 billion petabytes, including unstructured data such as social networking and low-level IoT data.

The concept of IoT is not new, but what is new are the factors contributing to the popularity of IoT. The SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World, says the extensive growth in the IoT market is due to three main factors:

  1. Inexpensive sensors. The cost of product sensors has dropped dramatically, allowing even startups to easily create innovative IoT product applications.
  1. Stronger computing power. Analytics and in-memory computing solutions enable the computing power necessary to gain insightful meaning from big data and data lakes in real time.
  1. Internet protocol IPv6. The new IPv6 enables immense IoT expansion by increasing IP addresses from 32 bits to 128 bits, which could support up to 78 octillion Internet addresses, allowing an almost unlimited number of people, processes, data, and things to be connected to the Internet.

How to manage it all

As everything becomes more connected, how will we use and manage this unprecedented amount of data? Data management and in-memory computing solutions are increasingly essential tools. They enable companies to unlock immense value from the volumes of data being collected from an escalating number of sources such as product sensors, mobile devices, machines, asset monitors, computers, and social media platforms.

New advances in in-memory computing technology delivering enriched interactive analytics will make it easier for businesses to combine structured transactional data from existing applications with new contextual data from multiple other sources, including IoT applications.

As the number of IoT sensors increases, the amount of information created from this exponential growth in IoT is sure to bring new meaning to the term “Big Data.”

Learn more about IoT, data analytics, and other facets of digital transformation in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.


About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.

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