Inside the real-world use cases of Big Data

big data

The amount of data we’re now generating is phenomenal. Cisco predicts that annual global IP traffic will reach 3.3 ZB per year by 2021. Just to put this into context 1 zettabyte is equal to 1 trillion gigabytes or 1 million petabytes. So, in other words, it's practically incomprenensible.

To generate this amount of data, Gartner has predicted that the number of devices connected to IP networks will be more than three times the global population by 2021 with 1 million IoT devices being sold every hour. If this doesn’t highlight the explosive growth of IoT adoption, then I don’t know what will.  

The Cisco Global Cloud Index cites Cloud as the top driver as exponential data centre growth combined with cloud centre traffic is set to quadruple in the next five years. Data generated by IoT applications such as connected homes, smart cities and healthcare is predicted to generate 600ZB per year by 2020.

It’s clear to see then that big data has a far-reaching impact and meaning. But there’s no use in obtaining all this data without having the ability to analyse it and convert it to useful information. Understanding the value of this data is instrumental to the successful implementation of operational strategies that can facilitate agile and effective business growth, but the key question is how. 

When combined with high powered analytics, big data can help organisation make better, fact-based decisions and therefore improve the overall customer experience. By using new Big Data technologies, organisations can answer questions in seconds rather than days, and in days rather than months. This acceleration allows businesses to enable the type of quick reactions to key business questions and challenges to build competitive advantage.

In theory the benefits sound promising, but let’s take a look at 3 real world examples where we can see big data in practice across both enterprise and public sector organisations.


Ecommerce sites typically use data to drive profits and sales. If you’ve ever shopped at Amazon you’ll probably received a product recommendation while visiting the Amazon website or through email. This is an example of a data-driven business decision. 

Amazon bases its recommendations on what customers have bought in the past, the items in their virtual shopping cart, what items the customer has ranked or reviewed after purchase and what products the customer has viewed when visiting the site. Amazon also uses key engagement metrics such as click-through rates, open rates and opt-out rates to further decide what recommendations to push to which customers.

By integrating recommendations into nearly every aspect of Amazon’s purchasing process, from product browsing to checkout, the company has found that product recommendations, in fact, do drive sales and increase the bottom line.

Southwest Airlines

It’s no secret airlines use data to track customers' luggage, personalize customer offers, boost customer loyalty and optimize their operations. At Southwest Airlines, executives are using customer data to determine what new services will be most popular with customers and the most profitable. Southwest has found that by observing and analyzing customers’ online behaviours and actions, the airline can offer the best rates and customer experiences. As a result, Southwest has seen its customer and loyalty segments grow year after year.

NHS Scotland

Big data analytics is being used well sporadically throughout the UK in order to deliver better health and financial outcomes. NHS Scotland started to adopt electronic health records nationwide in 2011 and this has led to the increased availability of digitised data in recent years.

To work alongside NHS Scotland’s data estate, they have implemented innovative analytical software to achieve their ambitions of improving health and cost-efficiency. By using informatics technology to provide an integrated care model for diabetes management, knowledge-driven projects like this have led to significant health outcome improvements and cost savings.

These organisations provide strong examples of how businesses and public sector organisations are using data to improve customer and patient services. Big data and analytics clearly play a pivotal role in digital transformation and those that adopt are sure to stay ahead of the competition.

If you’re looking to embark on a big data project, ANS’ big data services can help you to build highly scalable and secure Big Data applications at pace which can be combined with high-powered analytics to help you make smarter business decisions.

We work with Hyperscale public cloud providers to give you fast access to flexible and agile IT resources, so you can rapidly scale any big data application.

To find out how our customers Salford City Council is embracing in-depth business intelligence capabilities, including Big Data and data analytics to improve local services and transform the way the council interacts with residents, join our upcoming webinar. For more information and to register, click here.

Posted by Helen Thomas