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Big data going for gold

An IDC expert explains how big data can be used in the Olympics.

The technology media title V3, in partnership with solutions provider Cisco, is examining the role technology will have in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games.

As part of its coverage of business technologies, the website spoke to analyst company IDC's lead analyst on big data analytics, Benjamin Woo. The following is what Woo had to say about the rise of big data and what part it will play when the Olympics arrive. Alternatively, the podcast can be accessed here:

Woo began by outlining why big data is attracting such attention this year. “We have been forced to keep a lot more data, with governments and self regulatory agencies telling us we need to keep all this extra information we are gathering,” he said. “Now executives are asking ‘are we creating any value from it, or are we just wasting our time and money keeping it?’”

He went on to explain: “For large enterprises there is a huge opportunity to find and discover new revenue capabilities and have a deeper understanding of the customer and create long term organisational value and strategic value and that will come in the form of competitive advantage and intimacy with the customer.

“I think a lot of companies are still in ‘the experiment stage’. Either that or they are keeping the covers on very tightly because this is a way of creating competitive advantage. With the speed of technology nowadays being able to have some advantage with technology, whether it’s for a day or six months, can mean a lot of money to some companies.”

Woo offered his views on how big data is going to play a major – albeit ‘unseen’ – role when the Olympics come to London. “What will happen,” he said “is that there will be companies doing big data analysis on things like traffic patterns, whether or not new transport or additional transportation needs to be deployed and where, and where should the police be positioned – those are the kinds of questions that big data is going to answer.

“In terms of the anti-terrorism, that’s another area in which big data is doing a lot of the background work in terms of checking video footage to see if there are illegal activities going on.”