If you haven’t heard of the term ‘Big Data’, just where have you been? It’s a phrase which is becoming more and more mainstream, used by individuals, organisations and even countries.
So what is Big Data?
In trying to explain what Big Data is, I found this explanation:
‘Ask a chief technology officer to define big data and he or she will stare at the floor. Chances are, you will get as many definitions as the number of people you ask.’
Here’s my stab at a definition:
‘Big data is the term used for the collection, processing and analysis of extremely large and complex data sets.’
Some people have been forecasting big data as one of the next big things for quite some time. The ability to use vast swathes of data to intelligently plan and show trends certainly sounds intriguing.
But surprisingly it’s not without its detractors. Big Data could be seen as just the latest fad (I can understand why this seems the case). It could also be said that Big Data (and the companies that use this) are getting suspiciously close to George Orwell’s future vision in his book 1984. It’s also not without its controversy (see the recent issues raised about the National Security Agency in America, spying and their use of Big Data).
So why Big Data and #ukhousing?
For me, I don’t think #ukhousing can ignore Big Data. As #ukhousing organisations, we hold vast amounts of customer/tenant information on our housing systems, so it’s a logical step to look at using this data more intuitively. It stands to reason that we can use this data to better our customer insight, the services we offer, drive down costs and ultimately be a better landlord. I’d go as far as saying it would be remiss of us not to.
Organisations like HACT are championing the use of Big Data within #ukhousing and this blog from Matt Leach gives you just some of the reasons why.
Matt Leach points out some cases in his blog post of #ukhousing organisations that are already using big data to make business decisions.
Of course it’s important to point out that Big Data has to have some limits. Information can be a dangerous thing if it’s in the wrong hands, used in the wrong way or without limits. Just see this link on the Guardian website about the pressure that’s building on the White House to review how it’s using its big data and you see some of the potential pitfalls.
I’d argue it’s a matter of ‘when not if’ #ukhousing embrace Big Data.