Google Flu Trends reveal need for better analytics approach

In the fast-paced business environment, data is becoming currency as it provides valuable insights that drive growth and innovation efforts. Employees must understand big data best practices along with how to leverage a report designer for a comprehensive visual. Without this knowledge, decision makers will reach the wrong conclusions and miss out on substantial benefits. As data processes become more intensive, it will be especially important to use analytics features appropriately.

The complications experienced in the Google Flu Trends experiment demonstrates how complex big data processes are becoming with the increasing amount of statistics. According to Scientific American, over the past two years, GFT has overestimated peak flu cases in the U.S. by more than 50 percent. While the organization bases its predictions from data mining records of flu-related search terms, it forecasted more than double the amount of doctor visits than the CDC for flu-like symptoms. While Google's numbers are delivered much faster than other estimates, being so far off the target shows that the algorithm and approach to big data analysis must be reconsidered.

"The mistake of many big data projects, the researchers note, is that they are not based on technology designed to produce valid and reliable data amenable for scientific analysis," according to the source. "The data comes from sources such as smartphones, search results and social networks rather than carefully vetted participants and scientific instruments."

Working with big data
While using a mass amount of information can be intimidating, there are ways that users can generate true value from the data and present it with reporting tools for better clarity. The Information Daily contributor Andy Cowin noted that businesses are collecting information about every facet of operations, which can display trends for a better understanding of consumer behavior, areas that need improvement and numerous other essential metrics. While data by itself may not make sense to viewers, display tools help to put the statistics into manageable sets that can be easily understood. These features have often been fairly complex for employees to leverage, but with the appropriate training, more staff can use the reporting system effectively and boost potential benefits.

Organizations can use reporting services to present a variety of items from how the business is growing to what products are the most popular. However, another integral point will come from customer interaction. While customer calls can easily be shown on a graph, the interactions have extended to online forums that must be considered when improving the client experience. By factoring these sites, decision makers will be able to understand how much of an impact the networks have on company innovation.

Cowin points out that while the transparency of information can affect industry decisions, "it's an opportunity for businesses to generate revenue by finding problems in the data and pitch their solutions to enable the delivery of more efficient public services." Through these means, organizations will be able to adapt directly to current employee and client demands while driving for future innovations.


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