5 key areas big data will impact in 2015

With companies becoming increasingly familiar with the potential of big data analytics, the technology is gradually making its way into all part of a business. As hype about the solutions gets replaced with real results, it is only a matter of time before all organisations will need to start investigating what the innovation can do for them.

And there are several key areas that are especially set for a boost in the coming year. Some of these were recently highlighted by Saurabh Sharma, founder and chief executive of big data consulting firm Indus Insights. In a piece for Data Informed, he identified five of these key opportunities for the technology in 2015.

1. Insurance telematics

The new generation of internet-connected sensors can help car insurance companies gather much more data about their customers, with the latest telematics solutions able to provide details on drivers' habits and activities to an extent never seen before. But in order to convert this into useful insight, effective analytics tools will be required.

"With more connected cars taking to the road in the coming year, data pulled from telematics can be fed into analytics engines in real time so that insurers can better assess risk and reward good driving behaviour with pricing incentives," Mr Sharma said, as opposed to waiting until after incidents have occurred to penalise customers with higher premiums.

2. Human resources

The executive predicted that hiring processes will also be transformed by the advent of big data, with decision-making guided by predictive analytics queries tailored to a specific role.  "For example, hiring decisions could be based on information such as phrases used in the resume, commuting distance, or consistency in answering questions," he said.

This would lead to better success rates, lower employee churn, and less time to make hiring decisions, Mr Sharma continued, adding that big data will further optimise employee productivity and performance and identify any project potential shortfalls in expertise and manpower.

3. Wearable devices

Tools such as the Fitbit, Microsoft Band and Apple's Health app are now able to give individuals much more data than ever before on their own health and fitness, but this is also something businesses could leverage.

For instance, healthcare insurers could offer incentives for leading a healthier lifestyle, while employers may also help their workers to achieve fitness goals and track progress, potentially cutting down on office sickness and absenteeism.

4. Boosting local government

Public sector bodies are also set to begin using big data to assist in a variety of ways in 2015, Mr Sharma said. This may be helping resource-constrained law enforcement bodies anticipate and respond to crime, improving traffic management, spotting benefit fraudsters, among many others.

5. Tailored political messaging

With the UK set for a general election in 2015, and the US gearing up for the 2016 presidential election, big data will also have a huge role to play in the political arena – particularly when it comes to getting messaging to the public.

"Data analytics will allow for a much more granular level of targeting, enabling political campaigns to tailor specific messages to voters in a hyper-local and highly specific way," Mr Sharma said.