Insurance sector ‘to increase focus’ on big data

10

Mar
2016
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Insurance providers in the UK are expected to rely more heavily on big data analytics solutions this year in order to provide more personalised offers to customers.

Research conducted by Teradata revealed that more than four-fifths of companies with turnover of over £500 million (82 per cent) will be prioritising this technology in 2016. Meanwhile, smaller firms are still lagging behind in this area, with just 46 per cent of providers with under $500 million in turnover agreeing with this.

Despite the growing interest, there is still work to be done in some areas order for the UK insurance sector to catch up with those in other countries. It was noted that on average, 76 per cent of large firms in France and Germany are able to 'fully deploy' consumer data in order to make use of analytics, compared with just 63 per cent of British companies.

However, the UK was said to be ahead when it comes to incorporating technology such as the Internet of Things into their big data. This is an area that's set to be particularly important to the insurance sector, with tools such as telematics increasingly being used in motor insurance to provide quotes that reflect a person's driving habits.

Three-quarters of companies in the UK described themselves as "very well equipped" to exploit this.

As well as analysing customer behaviour and preferences in order to provide more personalised quotes and offers, nearly three-quarters of large insurers (73 per cent) stated that they will be using big data to help tackle underwriting fraud.

However, insurers have been warned they need to be cautious in their use of consumer data, in order to avoid falling foul of privacy regulations and to avoid alienating their customers.

Computer Weekly reports that at a discussion event in the city of London, chief executive of civil liberties pressure group Big Brother Watch Renate Samson noted that the trend towards personalisation will not be allowed under the terms of the European Union's forthcoming General Data Privacy Regulation, which will prohibit profiling or predicting on the basis of behaviour, attitudes or preferences.

She added: "People feel creeped out having their social media activity or web browsing watched. If an insurance or other financial services company comes to me offering a service and I realise they've been looking at my Facebook or Twitter, they will come a cropper."

Getting people engaged with the use of big data has also proved a challenge for insurance providers in the US, despite the potential savings that individuals stand to make as a result of allowing the use of technology such as telematics.

According to figures from US insurer Progressive, reported in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, around 80 per cent of its customers would qualify for a discount on their premiums through the use of IoT solutions that monitor their driving behaviour. However, just a quarter of consumers have signed up for this, with a further 40 per cent stating they would never give their consent for this type of tracking.

Big data ‘to add £322bn’ to UK economy by 2020

07

Mar
2016
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Big data 'to add £322bn' to UK economy by 2020
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The value of big data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) technology has been highlighted by a new report that forecast the solutions will add £322 billion to the UK's economy alone over the rest of the decade.

The paper is entitled 'The value of big data and the Internet of Things to the UK economy' and was published by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) and SAS. It noted the figure is twice the size of the combined budget for education, healthcare and defence for 2014-15 and more than one-fifth of the UK's net public debt for that financial year.

Big data alone is expected to contribute an average of £40 billion a year to the UK economy between 2015 and 2020, and will be worth around 2.2 per cent of the country's gross domestic product by the end of the forecast period.

Manufacturing will be one of the big winners from this, with the sector expected to see a £57 billion boost between 2015 and 2020 as a direct result of big data. This is expected to be driven by the diversity of firms in the industry and the variety of areas in which efficiency gains can be achieved through the use of big data analytics

For example, the study suggested it could lead to improvements in supply chain management and enhancements in customer intelligence.

By 2020, two-third of UK business (67 per cent) are expected to have adopted big data solutions, up from 56 per cent last year. The technology will be particularly prevalent in retail banking, with 81 per cent of companies in this sector deploying solutions.

IoT is set for a similar boom, with the adoption rate increasing from 30 per cent in 2015 to 43 per cent by 2020.

Chief executive of Cebr Graham Brough said: "Collecting and storing data is only the beginning. It is the application of analytics that allows the UK to harness the benefits of big data and the IoT. Our research finds that the majority of firms have implemented between one and three big data analytics solutions."

However, he added that the key to success will be not only making sure these tools are extracting maximum insight, but also that firms are able to turn them  into business actions. 

"IoT is earlier in its lifecycle, and will provide more data for analysis in areas that may be new to analytics, reinforcing the potential benefits to the UK economy," Mr Brough said.

The most common reason given for adopting big data analytic tools was in order to gain better insight into customer behaviour. More than two-fifths (42 per cent) of organisations surveyed stated that they use big data for this purpose.

A similar proportion of businesses (39 per cent) will be turning to IoT solutions in order to cut costs and gain insight into operational data, the report continued.

Joe Biden: Big data could assist cancer research

29

Feb
2016
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Joe Biden: Big data could assist cancer research
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Big data is making a huge difference to a number of companies and industries, allowing professionals to handle data more effectively than ever before and gather fascinating new insights. 

As the number of devices capable of connecting online increases, it is vital that companies find ways of interpreting data that can help to improve their products and services. Sectors such as marketing, retail and insurance have already reaped the benefits of big data. 

However, one area that is perhaps understated is how the technology could help to improve research into diseases, particularly cancer. Vice-president of the US Joe Biden recently met up with healthcare specialists in Utah and explained how a better approach for sharing information will be necessary in order for new treatments to be realised. 

How has big data helped to treat cancer?

Speaking to The Spectrum, Mr Biden emphasised how big data is helping to trace genetic and environmental factors that influence the disease, giving practitioners new knowledge that can be used to enhance their understanding. 

Mary Beckerle, Huntsman Institute CEO, told the news provider: “Half of those folks who succumb to cancer succumb to a cancer that could have been prevented. I think there's a really important emphasis to treat cancers that could have been prevented.”

Mr Biden has been visiting hundreds of doctors in a bit to improve federal engagement on curing cancer. He visited Duke University earlier this month and is set to make an appearance at the University of California San Francisco today (February 29th). 

The work is part of the White House’s cancer “moonshot” initiative, which aims to improve the level of progress towards curing cancer. As well as providing $1 billion (£721,000) towards research, the government is hoping to generate new ideas for cancer treatment specialists across the country. 

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $755 million for cancer research in the coming budget, which would be on top of the $195 million already given the green light by officials last year. 

What developments could occur in the coming years?

Big data is still growing in the market and many industries should be able to improve how they manage information and increase the quality of their products and services. 

In recent years, devices such as laptops, tablets and mobiles have all become key technologies for businesses as employees adopt more flexible ways of working and, with big data now introduced by many companies, there is more information for managers to decipher than ever before. 

As analytics technologies improve, companies can easily identify new ways of making money and producing better products and services. Big data allows organisations to easily gain insights from complex statistics and ensures that information is being used as effectively as possible. 

For causes such as cancer research, where thousands of documents have been created for organisations to look at, big data makes it easier than ever before to collate and understand information. Without it, sorting through large numbers of files and trying to extract insights from them can be a painstaking process. 

Big data allows qualitative factors in investment management to be quantified

29

Feb
2016
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Big data allows qualitative factors in investment management to be quantified
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The potential uses for big data are infinite it seems and this goes for the investment management industry as much as any other area. A new report shows that factors that were traditionally considered qualitative can now be quantified through this very handy new area of expertise.

Big Data & Investment Management: The Potential To Quantify Traditionally Qualitative Factors, which has been produced by Citi Business Advisory Services does what it says on the tin. Potential is the most important word here, as so far investment managers have not embraced big data wholeheartedly, but that could all be about to change.

It is something that every investment manager in the land should be clambering to address, as it could give them a competitive advantage. Having an information edge could put them ahead of those using traditional analytic techniques, reports Value Walk.

There are two main reasons for this: big data raises the amount of data that can be included in investment models; and improves the speed at which the data can be processed. Both of these elements could be particularly vital for investment managers moving forward.

If a third persuasive argument was to be added, it would be the fact that the variety of data that can be analysed has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. This is as a direct result of the growth of the internet; the advancement of social media; and the new Internet of Things, which can provide sensory readouts of physical objects.

In the process of additional content sources being developed, a certain amount of datafication has occurred. If this is a word you have not yet come across – and why should you, as it’s a fairly new addition to the vocabulary of the subject – consulting the report may help. It defines this term as “the ability to render into data many aspects of the world that have never been quantified before”.

With larger amounts of data, its increased variation and the speed at which it can be analysed all improving, an acceleration in systematic trading models innovation is expected. Things are likely to move on far quicker than they have at any time in the last ten years. At the same time, the quantitative investment space is braced to see similar steps forward, as the gap between traditional quantitative norms and modern qualitative research becomes smaller.

While a number of firms were surveyed in the making of the report, several pointed out that some of these changes remain purely aspirational at present. There are a number of obstacles that are getting in the way of big data adoption for investment managers, but should these be overcome, the future could certainly look bright.

Gartner: Security and analytics among the top IoT trends

26

Feb
2016
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Gartner: Security and analytics among the top IoT trends
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The Internet of Things (IoT) has grown into one of the most important new trends in the IT industry, as more and more companies realise the benefits it can bring to their employee and customer experience. 

Gartner has explained some of the top trends expected to affect the rollout of the IoT in the coming years, including security, analytics, operating systems and wide-area networks. 

The organisation explained that IoT security will be required to protect devices and platforms from information attacks, while encryption will be needed in order to address challenges including denial-of-sleep attacks that are designed to drain device batteries. 

Another big issue is that many devices use simple processors and operating systems that may be vulnerable to attacks from cyber criminals as they do not have sophisticated security approaches. 

Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said: “Experienced IoT security specialists are scarce, and security solutions are currently fragmented and involve multiple vendors.

“New threats will emerge through 2021 as hackers find new ways to attack IoT devices and protocols, so long-lived "things" may need updatable hardware and software to adapt during their lifespan.”

Gartner explained that IoT business models are capitalising on the data collected by devices in several ways, including understanding customer behaviour, service delivery, product improvements and how to identify and intercept data incidents. 

However, the group believes that new tactics are necessary in order to ensure that data is safe from the hands of hackers. As data volume increases through to 2021, the needs of the IoT could change even further, causing businesses to upskill radically. 

How will wide area networks affect the IoT?

Wide area networks are another key development in the IoT market, as conventional cellular networks do not offer a sufficient combination of technical features and operational costs for IoT applications requiring wide-area coverage. 

The long-term objective for wide area IoT networks is to deliver data rates from 100s of bits per second to tens of kilobits per second with nationwide coverage. While the first low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) were developed on proprietary technologies, emerging innovations such as Narrowband IoT are set to dominate in the future. 

What will be the biggest challenges for the IoT?

The IoT is continuing to grow across the world, though there are a number of challenges for organisations to consider, includin

Mr Jones explained: “A recurring theme in the IoT space is the immaturity of technologies and services and of the vendors providing them. 

“Architecting for this immaturity and managing the risk it creates will be a key challenge for organizations exploiting the IoT. In many technology areas, lack of skills will also pose significant challenges.”

Even though ecosystems and standards are not specifically technologies, Gartner suggests that standards and APIs will be vital because IoT devices will have to interoperate and communicate effectively, especially with companies needing to rely on sharing data across devices and organisations. 

Several IoT ecosystems will emerge and commercial and technical battles between ecosystems will dominate the smart home, smart city and healthcare. As well as this, organisations may need to engineer new variants in order to support multiple standards or ecosystems and be capable of updating products as standards change. 

Gartner: Cloud email rising in popularity

26

Feb
2016
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Gartner: Cloud email rising in popularity
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Cloud email is rising in popularity across the world, as 13 per cent of identified publicly listed companies worldwide utilise one or two of the main cloud email vendors. 

This is according to Gartner, which found that 8.5 per cent of public companies use cloud email from the Microsoft Office 365 service, whereas 4.7 per cent use Google Apps for Work and the remaining 87 per cent use an on-premises, hybrid, hosted or private cloud email through smaller businesses.

Among organisations using cloud email from Google and Microsoft, Microsoft is ahead in the majority of industries, especially in utilities, energy and aerospace. On the other hand, Google is ahead in industry segments where there is more competition, including software publishing, retail, media and education. 

Jeffrey Mann, research vice president at Gartner, said: “Among public companies using cloud-based email, Microsoft is more popular with larger organisations and has more than an 80 per cent share of companies using cloud email with revenue above $10 billion (£69.6 billion).”

Mr Mann went on to say that Google’s popularity is higher among small companies and close to a 50 per cent share of businesses with revenue under $50 million. 

In some sectors, particularly travel and hospitality, professional services and consumer products, the highest usage levels are among organisations with the largest revenues. Over a third of firms in these sectors with revenue above $10 billion utilise cloud email from either Microsoft or Google. 

Nikos Drakos, a research vice president at Gartner, also commented on the development of the industry, finding that both companies have been able to gain significant traction among enterprises of varying sizes and sectors. 

With more businesses now looking to free up as much space as possible, cloud email could be set to increase in popularity in the coming years as organisations look to boost their data security and reduce the chances of information falling into the wrong hands. 

Big data delivers benefits after 18 to 24 months

25

Feb
2016
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Big data delivers benefits after 18 to 24 months
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Big data delivers a significant return on investment 18 to 24 months after it is rolled out, a new study has suggested.

Research from Computing found that 38 per cent of respondents expect to see positive benefits from the technology after two years, while 27 per cent said one year and 24 per cent said three years. 

On the other hand, just five per cent of respondents said five years whereas four per cent said it would take more than five. The study also found that Apache Spark is catching up with Hadoop as the top big data platform. 

Over 500 IT workers responded to the nationwide study among businesses that have 100 or more employees from different sectors, including chief technology officers, chief information officers, chief operating officers and IT managers.

“You expect to see a shift in your underwriting results, but that's at an absolute minimum a two-year timeframe,” said one insurance manager who was interviewed as part of the study.

Big data is becoming increasingly important for modern businesses looking for a way to manage information safely and securely, as the number of devices used by companies increases. 

By using the technology, businesses are able to identify new ways of utilising information to work out sales patterns and improve the development of products. 

The technology can identify failures, issues and defects and make a big difference to the efficiency of companies, especially in the modern age when such large amounts of customer data can be assessed.

As well as this, with companies increasingly concerned with their financial security, it is more important to understand the risks involved in particular projects and make carefully considered decisions. 

Public Cloud IaaS eclipses true private cloud adoption

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Feb
2016
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Public cloud IaaS eclipses true private cloud adoption
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Public Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) technology implementations are over three times the size of private cloud adoption in the industry, a new study has indicated. 

According to Wikibon, IT organisations are aligning themselves into a position of limited value, as many companies are aiming to introduce technology modernisation initiatives. 

The group found that the overall market size of True Private Cloud implementations is $7 billion (£5 billion), which is significantly lower than the $25 billion value of the Public Cloud market in 2015. 

By 2009-2011, more companies moved towards the hybrid cloud in order to alleviate pressure about losing control over the Public Cloud. This shift in focus led to businesses having simpler access to cloud computing resources. 

Wikibon’s report also indicated that cloud skills are in high demand at the moment, but application skills are seen as being even more important. It was found that companies are now looking to make investments in order to ensure their private cloud environments are closely linked with the public cloud. 

In the report, Wikibon explained: “The upside to the future of Private Cloud environments is the demand and compensation levels for Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) skills. 

“Not only do PaaS platforms (structured or unstructured) hide some of the underlying IaaS complexity that has held back Private Cloud to-date, but it is much more focused on application-level value back to the business.”

The group explained that the cloud is delivering services in order to simplify application development, application deployments and application usage, with PaaS more appropriate to those business demands. 

The cloud has become increasingly popular in recent years as more businesses understand the limitations of offline storage and aim to improve the security of their data. 

The Human Face of Big Data documentary airs tonight on US TV

24

Feb
2016
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The Human Face of Big Data documentary airs tonight on US TV
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A popular book about big data has been turned into a documentary and is due to air on the US television channel PBS this evening (February 24th).

The Human Face of Big Data was published in 2012 to much acclaim, with its author Rick Smolan being credited with bringing the topic to a larger audience.

As a photojournalist, Smolan has followed some of the biggest leaps in technological advancement from their inception to widespread rollout in recent years.

He managed to make the topic, which essentially centres around storage and converged infrastructure, into a topic of public interest.

This was mainly achieved through his ability to bring in elements of visual stimulation to what can be a very dry area.

Smolan also touched on the fact that this technology is moving forward at a fast pace, stating: “much of what amazes us today will seem primitive and crude” in the future.

The idea that we are still in the cave man era of big data has grabbed headlines and is fascinating for those in the industry waiting to see what advancements the future will bring.

In order for the documentary to be produced, a certain amount of family collaboration has occurred, with Smolan’s brother Sandy creating the film.

Describing the process of turning his brother’s book into a documentary, the filmmaker told Silicon Angle it was the hardest project he had ever undertaken.

His approach involved “finding a schematic thread to corral all this information into a focused narrative, and give it structure”, he said.

It’s no wonder that the task was such a daunting one, as big data reaches into every aspect of modern life, from advertising to government surveillance.

The documentary will be screened at 10pm tonight.

Big data is revolutionising the marketing industry

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Feb
2016
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Big data is revolutionising the marketing industry
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Big data is becoming increasingly important to marketers, as they begin to see that it is the future of their industry. Without it, they will find themselves a step behind their competitors, which is a situation nobody wishes to end up in.

While there are many different predictions about just how important the phenomenon will be in the future, there is one that stands out from the crowd. Computer Services Corporation (CSC) has released a forecast suggesting that annual data generation will increase by 4,300 per cent by the year 2020, reports I Media Connection.

What’s more, Gartner corroborated the fact that big data is set to become vital for marketing, stating that chief marketing officers are likely to outstrip chief information officers in IT spending moving forward. This may come as a surprise to many, but is worth bearing in mind.

In the spring of 2015, Forbes Insights garnered the opinion of a number of executives and senior data figures at various firms to find out how much of a priority big data was. At the time, 21 per cent said that big data was a significant focus for their businesses; 38 per cent put it in the top five priorities; and 80 per cent said that their revenues had been upped between one and three per cent as a direct result of big data findings.

If this was the case nearly a year ago, then think how things have moved on since then. Big data is a field that is striving forward with no sign of stopping anytime soon, and those who do not take advantage of it will see themselves and their businesses being left behind.

But it shouldn’t just be large corporations that make the most of big data. Mick Hollison wrote about the potential for start-ups in an article for Inc. He said that they may also benefit “because they are being born in the era of big data and are building capabilities to leverage it into their business models”.

While no longer a tiny business, Uber is known to be using geo-spatial data along with location intelligence to aid its operations. This is leading directly to the company being able to expand globally and gain insights into the markets it’s entering into.

Companies as diverse as Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage & Acquisitions, TickPick and Ion Interactive are all making use of big data. So what makes it such an important part of the modern marketing landscape? It's big data’s ability to show what trends and patterns are happening in an industry. This, in turn, can be used to drive business strategies in the right direction, which is of course aided by marketing.

To sum it up, there is no better way of putting it than how Scott Brinker, chief technology officer at Ion Interactive, did. He said: “Big data makes it cheaper and easier to test concepts, but marketing is still about coming up with the big idea. Algorithms are great at optimization, but terrible at imagination.”

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