Big Data and the 22nd Winter Olympics
Last week saw the start of the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in what appears to be the most expensive Olympics ever at a cost of $50 billion. Six thousand athletes from 85 countries around the world will compete in 15 sports over 98 events. The Winter Olympics runs for 17 days and over that period it will generate a huge amount of data. As well as hundreds of reporters working and living in Sochi, media networks around the world need access to the latest information, in a timely fashion, which they will then present back to a predicted global audience of three billion people via websites, newspapers, magazines, blogs, radio, television, podcasts and so on. In addition to the media, coaches and athletes from every competing country need access to information about the ongoing competition, as well as the weather, which has a significant impact on all events at the Winter Olympics.
Big data is a term that is used frequently these days, but now more than ever before data is affecting every aspect of our lives. A commonly quoted fact is that 90% of all the data in the world has been generated over the last two years. This sounds impossible until you start to add up the number of places we record data on a daily basis about ourselves as individuals, such as social media, which generates petabytes of data every day. The Olympic Park holds 75,000 attendees and there are another 25,000 volunteers helping to run the Winter Olympics. Tens of thousands of tweets and pictures have already been posted, often letting followers know the results of events before the mainstream media report on it. People no longer rely exclusively on traditional media for information as it can be hours out of date in comparison to what they have read on Twitter or Facebook. Traditional print has been in decline for years, but media organisations have adapted to the modern era and are making full use of new technology to stay relevant and deliver useful information to their global audience. Likewise businesses cannot rely on periodic reports and analysis in the current landscape which is increasingly competitive. Retailers at Sochi will need up to date information about stock levels of their goods so that they can meet the demand during the small window of the Winter Olympics. A report at the end of the month when the games are finished will not help the 7,000 chefs and waiters serving food to hungry attendees.
More Informed Decisions
Businesses need a way to translate large amounts of information into something they can quickly and easily interpret to help them make well-informed decisions. Traditional reports can be produced more often, but a visual representation is easier to process. Graphs, charts and diagrams are used all around us every day, from fire exit signs to emergency cards on airplanes to road signs, as we can interpret the information faster than reading a written equivalent. A business intelligence dashboard can turn a huge amount of data into an interactive chart, giving users access to data in real-time, but it also enables them to explore the data. Regardless of the industry, every business is seeing an increase in the amount of data they must record and monitor. A business intelligence dashboard is no longer a nice to have in today’s world, it is a necessary tool for organisations in order to remain competitive and up to date on the performance of their business and changes in the industry.