Computer Futures

Big Data & Me

I’d like to take this moment to thank Netflix. Without Big Data and you, I wouldn’t have Grey’s Anatomy….life wouldn’t be the same.

Every time I purchase an item from my favorite store, I delve into my purse keen to scan my rewards card; momentarily oblivious to the idea that the data the retailer is capturing excites them as much as me receiving my ‘points’.

For me, Big Data has had a big impact on my customer experience. The most apparent example of this is my Netflix account – the suggested recommendations based on my previous viewings.

Aside from my Saturday morning TV fix, Big Data has also successfully enhanced my shopping and travel experiences. I will happily trade my shopping secrets/habits, in exchange for discounts on flights to my most frequented locations, and money off my favorite groceries.

The Big Data industry is growing exponentially, and it’s easy to see why. However, where is the line drawn? When does Big Data move from the realm of improving the customer’s experience, to creeping the customer out?

The best retailers capture consumer habits and both reward and incentivize for repeat business. I get free coffee for fuelling my caffeine addiction, and an occasional upgrade for my flights back home to the UK.

However, I recently heard from a friend that she was confident her other half was going to propose. When I asked why – she replied she couldn’t open a website on their home computer without there being advertisements for diamond engagement rings littering the page.

Naughty, naughty Big Data.

There has been a lot of controversy around the topic.  One famous retailer has even been suspected of predicting pregnancies and mailing baby related coupons; all prior to some of these women knowing the news themselves.

Yet, that line between being creepy or positive is subjective. For me, it’s a game changer and I will enthusiastically continue to exchange my shopping secrets/habits in exchange for a greater consumer experience.

And one day, just maybe, I’ll successfully have traded enough data for airmiles to fund a full trip home.

This article first appeared in 'Limitless', created for the Computer Futures offices in Houston and Austin, and was written by Jessica Warden-Brown. If you'd like to find out more about Jessica's relationship with Big Data, feel free to reach out to her.