Why is data one of the most valuable assets in this age? Why do organizations rely so much on data? What is the use of data in our day-to-day transactions? What are the application areas of Big Data and Data Science? Let’s see.
GENIE IN THE BOTTLE
Data science is a bit like Aladdin’s lamp. The genie inside resides in the form of data. The difference is that this particular genie can grant innumerable wishes instead of your standard three. Big data and data science have gained a foothold on the center stage, spreading their tentacles to become a deciding factor in every aspect of our daily lives.
DATA SCIENCE IN BUSINESS
Consider the example of a typical company. Its board of directors requires the year-over-year data pertaining to sales, salaries, purchase of raw materials, etc. in their Annual General Meetings. This data helps them decide the company’s condition and position in the market, and thereby keep a check on upward or downward trends in share prices.
But that’s not all! A centralized organization collects this data from all such institutions, analyzes it and provides the results to the relevant ministries. This is how the economic policy of a nation is decided by collecting and analyzing data from all such companies, public as well as private.
DATA SCIENCE IN HEALTH
Data science also plays a pivotal role in hospitals. Hospitals deal with a large number of patients on a daily basis. The history of patients with different ailments, the medication, side effects, alternative medicine, surgeries, after effects, death rates, etc. is stored as big data. This data is stored and shared with governmental, health and regulatory organizations worldwide, which provide invaluable insights to medical researchers. Their research aids in finding new cures and treatments without side effects, which in turn helps pharmaceutical companies to produce effective medicines.
A prime example is a research in the treatment of cancer, which is a worldwide menace. Scientists have discovered potent, targeted medicines like increasingly effective immunomodulators to kill off cancer cells. This is an incredible achievement in medical science because it enables any patient in the remote corners of the world to get the right medication.
Additionally, doctors can perform their jobs more effectively by referring to the history of a patient, because hospitals now have the capability of maintaining the data of the patient. Therefore, in the event of emergencies, immediate treatment can be given to save a critical patient. Patients can also be reminded of follow-up dates and regular tests.
DATA SCIENCE IN DAILY LIFE
Have you noticed how an ecommerce site intelligently shows us our desired products while shopping online? How do they know what you need? In fact, your online orders or even a basic search for products, your preferences are stored in the website’s data bank. When you start typing even the first letter of the product purchased previously, you are given the list of the products purchased, the time of purchase, and any alternate products, with combo packs or deals.
Can you imagine the amount of data collected for a single purchase? Your behavior, likes and preferences and purchasing capacity are used to influence your next purchase. This is the big benefit of data science, for the company selling products. This is why almost all companies hire data analysts to improve customer service and boost sales.
DATA SCIENCE IN GOVERNMENTS
Data science has even found its way into governing bodies due to the obvious advantages. For example, the meteorology department has to maintain data for many years to analyze and forecast monsoons, oceanic currents, occurrences of cyclones or hurricanes, etc. Similarly, the economic department requires fiscal positions, debt ratios, NPA of Banks, unemployment statistics, foreign trade policies, census data, etc.
THE DARK SIDE
You’d imagine that with all its usefulness, data science is amazing. However, data has a negative as well, just as every coin has two sides. Nowadays, your personal life and privacy are at stake due to the incessant data processing. Fraudulent use of data can be used to hack your credit card or bank accounts and drain out your balance, or disclose your personal details, to the public, also known as ‘doxxing’.
There are counter attacks for such behavior, indeed. You can protect your data with tools such as firewalls and antivirus software. However, if you choose to disclose your personal data voluntarily, it cannot be protected effectively despite best efforts from data centers. Vigilance and awareness about the modern trends in data management are the only ways you can protect your personal details.
As is the case with any technology, data science can be considered as a boon or a bane, depending on how you choose to use it.