‘Data is the new Oil’, so said David McCandless. The Internet is awash with data. From tracking social media tweets on BirdSong to music listening habits on Last FM, the Internet and use of it is creating terabytes of data every hour. Much of this data is readily accessible through API’s for us to harness. Innovations like the Guardian Data Store is also putting more ‘offline’ data sets available online allowing us access to a wealth of data.
But like refining oil, the data is of little value without refining it to deliver insight or specific result. The Guardian data makes heavy reading if we are reading millions of rows of data. Transforming that data into an infographic, for example, lifts it from limited data to useful insight that can be easily consumed, understood and shared.
Using data does not have to be solely for creating reports or creating planning tools like BirdSong. It can be used to bolster a ’traditional’ website to offer a more valuable web experience and further empower the consumer. A travel page with live temperature data and historic averages would be of more value than a ‘plain’ travel page. Pulling the data into the page makes it more valuable to the consumer, aiding their decision making process and decreasing their potential to leave your site.
Whilst the definition of ‘big’ data starts in the petabytes of data, companies can be taking advantage of these concepts, taking advantage of millions of rows of data to enhance their offering.
From a development perspective, we need to ensure we pull the right data in a timely fashion, delivering the required insight to benefit the consumer. As demand for site conversion and ROI grows, we expect to see more data enhancing the traditional website.