Opinion

2014 Year in “PreReview” for Big Data Analytics

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Editor’s note: Amberoon’s annual “Year in PreReview” articles for SandHill are a spoof on technology predictions.

In the movie “Minority Report,” set in 2054, Tom Cruise plays the captain of the “PreCrime” police force, which uses “precognitive” abilities of mutants to stop crime before it happens. Silicon Valley futurists have sometimes used this reference in the context of the art of the possible with Big Data. We have another 40 years to go to see how analytics can accurately forecast future events based on human behavior. Meanwhile, imagining the future with some level of accuracy is within our reach today. In that spirit, what follows is a “PreReview” for 2014. 

Value creation in the data economy made headlines in 2014. While Big Data continued to be the buzzword of the year in 2014, solutions that created economic impact were center stage.  Trending terms such as “predictive analytics” and “advanced analytics” approached the levels of “Big Data” on Google Trends during the year. “ROI,” which was vaguely referenced in the last two years, became the most commonly used term with Big Data in 2014. Here is a cross-section of 2014 events. 

Apple announces TopsyTV

This is their next-generation TV appliance that integrates social media engagement with the TV watching experience. Earlier in 2013, Apple acquired Topsy Labs, a reseller for Twitter content for $200M. This was followed by a series of less publicized acquisitions of social media data companies. Apple is characteristically tight-lipped about its plans for monetizing this product with advertising, but speculation is rife that Apple is poised to get a piece of the $600 billion that is spent on advertising today.  

The integration of social media with TV could change the face of advertising budgeting in 2015. TV advertising has usually had the lion’s share of advertising budgets for years with estimates varying from 40-60 percent. Digital marketing by contrast has been estimated to be about 15 percent albeit growing rapidly. Digital marketers battled for a greater allocation of the pie. Last year, Gary Vaynerchuk, social media guru and best-selling author of “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” summed up his advice on marketing spend for large companies in one sentence: “Stop buying (TV) commercials.” 

At the CES 2015 show in Las Vegas in January, Microsoft, Google and Samsung are expected to announce their respective appliances that integrate TV and social media. Apple, which has not participated in this show for 20 years, is rumored to be making a cameo appearance with TopsyTV. 

Monsanto is the leader of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for agriculture analytics 

Also referred to as precision agriculture as well as “Geek Farming,” the goal of agriculture analytics is to optimize the farming of land based on analyzing large sets of data on soil samples, weather patterns and historical yields. Big Data analytics is used to maximize yield with minimal environment impact. 

In the past few years Monsanto acquired Precision Planting for $250 million for specialization in “spatial analytics” for planting seeds. In late 2013, Monsanto paid $930 million for Khosla Ventures-backed startup Climate Corporation, which sold “automated weather insurance” to farmers based on actuarial calculations derived from weather predictions. 

Agriculture is a $3 trillion industry globally where yield is driven by everyday decisions such as location and timing of planting seeds. Monsanto’s Integrated Farming Systems uses a combination of data science, food science and genetics to help farmers make optimal decisions.  The predictive model for weather is reported to use data gathered from 2.5 million locations and 150 billion soil samples. Last year, Jim McCarter from Monsanto said, “Just like Amazon has its recommendation engine for what book to buy, we will have our recommendations of what and how a grower should plant a particular crop.” 

In 2015, DuPont is expected to unveil its precision agriculture strategy based on its Pioneer Field360 platform that uses weather data for tracking the growth of crops. 

MEDSEEK: “Healthcare Influence Analytics” trending 

Retailers went through a steep learning curve on omnichannel marketing and Big Data analytics in the last few years producing a lot of sophisticated models to engage customers. MEDSEEK leveraged these models to increase patient engagement in healthcare using “Digital Influence” combined with advanced analytics around clinical and operational outcomes. This addresses the holistic goal of healthcare to expand engagement beyond periodic visits to doctors and hospitals. 

Unlike retail customers in 2013, patients in 2014 were very amenable to share their information and be influenced by the ensuing recommendation. The area of Influence Analytics got a boost in 2014 by the proliferation of wearable devices such as FitBit and the Up Band from Jawbone, which generate the data to monitor and influence behavior. 

Out of an estimated $213 billion that was spent on directly avoidable healthcare costs in 2012, $105 billion was incurred due to patient non-adherence to medication, according to a study by IMS Health. As an example, the annual cost of treating a non-adherent patient with diabetes is about $4,000 more than the cost of an adherent patient. The incremental cost of a non-adherent patient with congestive heart failure is nearly $8,000. Monitoring and influencing the behavior of these patients is addressed through advanced analytics and predictive modeling. Exercise and diet-related influence is another application of Influence Analytics. 

Nike and UnitedHealthcare are rumored to be collaborating to launch a healthcare solution in 2015 targeted at the $60 billion weight-loss industry based on Healthcare Influence Analytics. 

Analytics-driven voter engagement wins 2014 elections 

While almost all candidates used Big Data analytics and social media for their 2014 campaigns, the winners were those that applied unique insights to engage with voters, irrespective of their political ideologies. Several closely fought races between social media savvy candidates created new plays that will be studied in the next election. 

The most commonly cited playbook for the 2014 elections was “Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics.” Several successful candidates engaged marketers that had successfully carried Twitter campaigns for showbiz celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, both of whom have more than 50 million followers. 

In response to a question on the use of showbiz celebrity tweeters for the election campaigns, a DNC official was quick to point out that POTUS Barrack Obama had a following of 45 million, which is more than a lot of showbiz celebrities. 

As preparations are underway for the 2016 presidential race, marketers and technologists are in high demand. At least three presidential contenders have opened offices in downtown San Francisco to tap into the latest crop of data scientists from Silicon Valley to work on their campaigns. 

Siri Watson, MD wins Emmy 

In its first season the hit TV series, “Siri Watson, MD” (SWM) from Netflix was awarded an Emmy for its portrayal of a robotic doctor that has the capacity to synthesize data from millions of case histories and learn from their outcomes. This series launched in 2014 was created with a dream team of technical consultants from The Mayo Clinic, IBM and Apple. 

In a recent episode, SWM saves the lives of 20 premature babies by analyzing their data in real time and prescribing treatment. This is the first instance of an Emmy being awarded to a humanoid robot. This was also the first year that voting for the Emmys was done entirely online.   

The technology behind SWM is based on the science of cognitive computing, which is the basis of self-learning applications like Siri as well as IBM’s Watson that was featured on Jeopardy.  Cognition-as-a-Service is considered the next evolution of the operating system and also used for Cognitive Cloud Services launched by IBM in 2013 to build applications based on the Watson natural-language query engine. 

In real life, the Ontario Institute of Technology and IBM have developed streaming data analytics based on 43 million streaming data points per patient per day. This is specifically applicable for prescribing treatment for premature babies in neonatal care, which account for a large proportion of infant deaths. 

MGM Studios also announced a remake of “Space Odyssey 2001” with the role of Siri Watson, MD replacing the character HAL 9000 with a release scheduled for Thanksgiving 2015. 

Shirish Netke is president and CEO of Amberoon Inc., a provider of data-driven business perspective solutions. He has led companies in the area of software, services and electronic entertainment. He was one of the first evangelists for Java when it was launched by Sun Microsystems and has been quoted as an industry thought leader in the New York Times, Investors Business Daily, Chief Executive Magazine and Asia Times. Follow him on Twitter @CarpeDatumRx.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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