Data by nature is highly layered and nuanced, which is why the fast-growing interest in Big Data is so fascinating. Despite the term “big,” the reality is that Big Data is much more than large datasets. Big Data’s real value is found in all data, used to find perfect context at the perfect moment.
Recently, Apple Insider reported on Apple’s application for a patent on layered maps, a way to create displays that place stratified, rich data categories atop a physical map. Those layers can be static data (places of interest) or far more dynamic data (weather). Thinking ahead, a display can represent things like sentiment in the moment, during an event, and in the form of active conversations across social media. For a business, the possibilities are enormous, from crowd and traffic patterns to the exact locations of loyal customers.
This is a very, very powerful way to consume Big Data.
Big Data Turned the Other Way
Just as we can take massive quantities of data and perform self-discovery to find meaningful patterns, the reverse is also true. We can overlay geography with the important insights provided by Big Data analysis to give locational context to patterns. The real point of Big Data isn’t to know things—it is to derive benefits from what you know. Apple gets that, and though it is a device company, it has shown a remarkable ability to help people consume complex information in very digestible ways.
This will be a competitive differentiator and possibly a way Apple surges ahead by providing remarkable geographic context. Apple clearly knows that context is valuable currency of the Big Data age. It is the only way we can understand and put to use what we’ve collected and analyzed. Context is the way forward for Apple and any company that wants to succeed in the Information Age.
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