Dr. Toa Charm is the chairperson of the BI & big data special interest group at Hong Kong Computer Society. In December 2015, his article, “Big Data in Action”, is posted on Hong Kong Computerworld.
If you think big data is very remote from our work and lives, well, think again. If you still haven’t felt the waves from the global big data tsunami, well, think again. Big data has already permeated our lives. Rather than boring you with the definition of big data and explaining what is Hadoop, let’s have a look at how big data is taking over the world, making significant impact in our daily lives and businesses in Asia.
Analyze shopping till you drop
The top two winners of big data users are Alibaba and Amazon. In Asia, Alibaba made headlines again on November 11 with an online transaction of RMB91.2 billion (HK$110.8 billion) on its annual Single’s Day sale. It was the use of analytics — enabling Alibaba and its sellers at TMall and Taobao to cross-sell and up-sell—that generated such astonishing transactions. Apart from the e-commerce business, Alibaba’s Internet financing unit Ant Financial Services Group also made big wins through big data from the Single’s Day sale. Through analytics and big data, Ant Financial is able to calculate interest rates and manage risks to offer services like micro loans, online payment
and insurance services. According to the company, its financing unit MyBank loaned RMB9 billion (HK$10.9 billion) to the e-commerce suppliers in preparation of the sale.
Big data for movies
Do you still remember KPS Video Express? The leading video rental store used to have a shop in all the major eighborhoods in the 1990s. Apart from the impact from piracy and counterfeit DVDs, Netflix, YouTube and Youku are now replacing these shops. Movie fans are no longer disappointed because their favorite movies are out of stock. There are unlimited copies of every movie, as long as your Internet bandwidth supports the streaming. If you are not sure what to watch, the analytics of these providers can recommend movies based on your surfing behavior and previous purchase.
Hong Kong in big data actions
With so many successful cases about big data, how many Hong Kong companies are taking advantage of the analytics technologies? I’d say we are better than a few years ago, but still have a long way to go.
Many local businesses are starting to realize the importance of big data and analytics to accelerate business growth. Li & Fung has set up an experimental shopping mall in Shanghai called Explorium. It aims to enhance shoppers’ experience by understanding better their personal preferences through technology. The shopping mall takes advantage of different state-of-the-art technologies and top-class big data analytics to track and identify shopper behaviors.
Another example is Chow Tai Fok Jewelry. It is also making use of big data to identify individual customers’ styles and preference by tracking their offline buying behaviors, buying habits, as well as their surfing behavior online.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong SAR Government has started to focus on an open data policy, allowing external parties to access government data. Through opening up access to data, different parties are encouraged to get involved in the development of different applications or initiatives to bring Hong Kong one step closer to become a smart city.
All these examples indicate that the era of big data has arrived. Are you ready to take action and join the global wave of big data?