By: Caroline Lyle
Emerging technologies have unlocked access to massive amounts of data, data that is mounting faster than organizations can process it. Buried under this avalanche of analytics are precious nuggets of information that organizations need to succeed. Companies can use these key insights to optimize efficiency, improve customer service, discover new revenue sources, and more. Those who can bridge the gap between data and business strategy will lead in our new economy.
Big Data’s potential impact on enterprises and industries as a whole is boundless. This potential is already being realized here in the Hub. Boston has been ahead of the curve when it comes to Big Data, thanks to our unique innovation ecosystem or our “Big Data DNA,” the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council says. As a result, Boston is home to an especially high concentration of Big Data startups, but also powerhouse industries that have strategically leveraged analytics and transformed the space.
Check out how data and analytics has changed these five Boston industries.
1. Marketing & Advertising
In our age of online marketing, marketers have access to mountains of data. Pageviews, clicks, conversion, social shares…the list is endless. That doesn’t even account for the demographic data marketers collect and interpret every day.
These analytics have enabled marketers to access a more comprehensive report of campaign performances and in-depth view of buyer personas. Armed with these insights, marketers are able to refine their campaigns, improve forecasts, and advance their overall strategy.
Big Data also enables targeted marketing, a crucial component of today’s online strategy. You know those eerily accurate advertisements on your Facebook page? You can thank Big Data for that.
Analytics have unlocked enormous potential for marketers to better create, execute, and forecast campaigns. As a result, Boston has boomed with organizations entirely devoted to providing data-driven marketing solutions. HubSpot and Jumptap have emerged as leaders in this space, raising about $2.5 billion combined. Attivio, Visible Measures, DataXu are also leading marketing solutions providers.
It shouldn’t surprise that healthcare represents a top industry in Boston’s Big Data ecosystem. The healthcare industry collects and analyzes enormous volumes of clinical data on a daily basis. Partners Healthcare alone has some two billion data elements from over six thousand patients, according to the Massachusetts 2014 Big Data Report.
Big Data’s impact can be seen first and foremost with the electronic health record. Big Data has launched the electronic health record into the twenty-first century, revolutionizing patient care, and empowering the success of companies like athenahealth based in Watertown.
“The meaningful use of electronic health records is key to ensuring that healthcare focuses on the needs of the patient, is delivered in a coordinated manner, and yields positive health outcomes at the lowest possible cost,” the report said.
The space has expanded even more since Massachusetts passed legislation requiring all providers to adopt electronic health records and connect to the health information exchange, Mass HIway in 2012.
The Shared Health Research Informatics Network (SHRINE) is another local innovation linking five hospitals (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Boston, Brigham and Women’s, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Center) in a centralized database to improve efficiency and quality of care.
After genomic data and patient data from electronic medical records, medical devices like pacemakers or a Fitbit, for example, are the fastest-growing sources of healthcare data. All of these rich sources of information can – and are – being leveraged by Boston healthcare providers to improve care and lower costs.
The State of Massachusetts and the City of Boston lead the nation with a sophisticated public sector approach to data and analytics. Governor Patrick made Big Data part of policy, launching Massachusetts Big Data Initiative and supporting Mass Open Cloud Initiative, a public cloud that utilizes an innovative open and customizable model. In 2009, the Commonwealth launched the “the Open Data Initiative” inviting the public to access the government’s data library from nearly every department.
But analytics’ impact on the public sector is only beginning. Big Data can significantly improve the quality and efficiency of city services, and do so at a lower cost. But most importantly, data will unlock the future of urban living. Imagine if we knew the location of every bus, train, car, and bike in real-time? Imagine if we knew the profiles of every city building? This is the vision of Boston’s future as a “connected city” outlined in Mass Technology Leadership Council’s 2014 report Big Data & Connected Cities.
“Boston is making great strides in using technology to improve how city services are delivered but we can and will do more,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh about MassTLC’s report. “We are making vast amounts of the city’s big data available online to the public to not only increase transparency but to also spur innovation.”
Walsh has shown support for a data-driven, connected city and plans to hire a City of Boston Chief Digital Officer to help make this vision a reality.
Big Data is a big reason Boston has evolved as a leader in the energy industry. Tapping into Big Data yields much more comprehensive, accurate reports of energy usage and also illuminates how these building can operate more efficiently. As a result, the industry has boomed with companies helping buildings go green to save green, including local leaders EnerNoc, Retroficiency, and NextStepLiving. Buildings in Boston and beyond are being constructed or retrofitted with building automation systems – cloud-based, centralized control centers – which collect massive amounts of data, report on energy consumption in real-time, and can continually adjust building performance for optimum efficiency. This “smart” living is the wave of the future and entirely driven by Big Data.
5. Financial Services
Financial services is the fifth largest vertical for Big Data in Massachusetts. Big Data has made it possible to analyze financial data sets that previously weren’t accessible. Financial analysts now can examine and interpret unprecedented amounts of information and do so in new and innovative ways. For example, stock traders can collect and mine mass amounts of social media information to gauge public sentiment about products or companies, Information Week said.
Top companies Fidelity Investments, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Baystate Financial, LLC and others in Boston’s financial services sector heavily depend on big data to compile reports, forecast market future, and guide their decisions.