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As life becomes increasingly digitized, vast stores of information – spanning a nearly limitless array of activities from text messaging to emergency room treatment – are piling up within the databases of businesses, hospitals and universities. This wealth of data is accruing so rapidly, in fact, that 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years.
This trend is called Big Data, and it has incredible potential to reveal new insights into Web 2.0, healthcare management, fraud detection, consumer behavior and more. According to Fox Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) Paul A. Pavlou, opportunities for exploring this new field of knowledge are poised to grow exponentially.
“Big Data may possess vast tracts of hidden knowledge that could never be seen in a smaller data set,” said Pavlou, who was ranked the top MIS researcher in the world in 2011. But, Pavlou explains, “Big Data is so big that it presents researchers with unprecedented challenges in collecting, storing, sharing, analyzing and interpreting the data. Many of our existing approaches simply don’t work with data sets this large.”
Which is why the Fox School of Business, and Temple University as a whole, is positioning itself on the leading edge of this new field. Through a university-wide conference held in May, and another practice-oriented conference planned for fall, Fox is building collaborations with industry focused on creating business value for multinational companies.
The Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT) at Fox sponsored a “Big Data” Symposium on May 21 that connected Temple researchers from multiple disciples ranging from medicine, to statistics, to computer science, to business to discuss their ongoing efforts to explore the potential of Big Data and identify inter-disciplinary collaborations. Researchers also discussed teaming up to scour Big Data for transformative insights into genetics, cancer, politics, neuro-imaging and even obesity.
Now, as the collaborations planned in May are gaining traction, IBIT is preparing for another major conference, which will reach beyond the university and apply academics’ insights toward powering regional businesses.
During the conference, titled “The Business Value of Big Data: Potential, Reality, and Success Stories,” Temple researchers will share insights into Big Data’s potential with senior executives from firms such as Accenture, Campbell’s Soup, LiquidHub, Merck, Pfizer, Transaction Network Services and Walmart, and collaborate on challenges ranging from detecting fraud, to predicting customer behavior, to improving product safety, to mastering new social media.
“Big Data is going to have a transformative effect on the future of academia and business alike,” Pavlou said. “And Temple is committed to becoming a center of excellence that produces a steady stream of insights into both the conceptual challenges – and the actionable potential – of this burgeoning new field.”