Top Tech News You Need to Know: Ebola, The Internet of Things and More

Per usual, it’s been a big week. October is finally here and you no longer have to feel a little bit weird for geeking out so much about anything and everything pumpkin spice, nor do you have to explain to any coworkers that you just like to prepare early when it comes to your Halloween gear. Of course, all the excitement about fall festivities may have kept you off your “what’s going on in big data news” game. Don’t worry, though! Here’s this week’s top big data and tech news to get you ready for the weekend ahead.

Can Big Data Help Stop the Spread of Ebola?

It’s official, Ebola has breached U.S. borders, and the first case is in Texas, no less. Luckily, mass panic across the States hasn’t come full circle, just yet, thanks in large part to the health care professionals across the country working to educate a concerned public about the spread of this contagious disease. Unfortunately, however, while the infected number is only one State-side, Ebola is continuing to kill in the thousands in west African countries including Liberia, where the infected Dallas man had recently traveled and where a total of 200 documented doctors are caring for a country population of 4 million. 

In dealing with such large numbers of patients, African health care professionals are looking to predictive analytics and algorithms to foretell a surge in infected patients in a region. How so? Using big data, of course

Now, predictive health care and big data don’t necessarily have an amicable history. After all, the Google Flu Trends failure is still top of mind for many. But, in countries where access to health care can mean hours of travel and in which health care services are limited due to supplies, finances and more, big data can certainly play the part of research assistant, if nothing else. 

“In disaster zones, real-time analytics that process and churn huge amounts of data can help pinpoint previously unanticipated trends, limit the number of deaths and, in doing so, massively reduce the spread of disease. Used in this way, big-data technologies might one day become an essential tool in the relief worker’s arsenal” wrote David Richards, the co-founder and CEO of big data firm WANdisco, in an article on CNBC.com

“An essential part of this requires being able to collate unstructured data as soon as it is produced, by any number of organizations from across the globe — a process known as multi-center ingest. Combined with the vast quantities of public information already accessible via the internet, big data can help ensure those working in hazardous environments are able to stay on top of ever changing situations.” 

Big Data Still in Infancy, Says New Gartner Study 

Technically, since the first time the words “big” and “data” were put together to form a descriptive of what we all collectively now know as the massive hoards of data being created and thus collected every single day, big data is 14-years-old. Of course, we all also know that when it comes to adolescents, age is just a number and individual maturation can seriously pull you back into elementary or middle school days. 

Looks like big data, then, is a late bloomer. 

While 73% of companies in the newest Gartner study say they plan to invest in big data technologies, only 13% have actually deployed those technologies and are actively using them. 

“The biggest reason people are assuming it is so advanced is because there’s a ton of hype around it,” said Mark Beyer, Gartner research vice president of information management. “Any time new technology of a new processing approach is introduced into the market, there is an immediate attraction to it by the most advanced users. The most advanced implementers and users are also the noisiest.”

“If you haven’t decided on a big data platform yet in which to invest, turns out you aren’t alone.”

Ok, cool – so what does that mean for you? Well, first and foremost, don’t fret if you haven’t decided on a big data platform yet in which to invest. Turns out, you aren’t alone. Between tons of disparate data sources and even more choices in the data platform you use, many executives are still chewing over all their options. In fact, if your big data decision delay is keeping you up at night, rest assured that you’re less behind than you think. 

Here, the biggest debunked big data myths from Gartner’s study:

  1. Everyone Is Ahead of Us in Adopting Big Data
  2. We Have So Much Data, We Don’t Need to Worry About Every Little Data Flaw
  3. Big Data Technology Will Eliminate the Need for Data Integration
  4. It’s Pointless Using a Data Warehouse for Advanced Analytics
  5. Data Lakes Will Replace the Data Warehouse

Read that again: those five sentence right there – yea, none of them are true. 

Google Announces Physical Web Project – Helps Ready Users for Internet of Things

Google is making one really big bet on the actual fruition of the Internet of Things – AKA if Google thinks its our future, are you really going to argue? 

Maybe – but get this: The Physical Web, revealed this week by Scott Jenson, an interaction and UX designer who left Google only to return to the Chrome team last November, is gearing up to provide “interaction on demand,” removing the need for users to open apps to utilize the Internet of Things. 

Think this isn’t a big deal? Step back for a second: if and when the Internet of Things becomes a more cohesive reality (wearables and forks that tell you how many calories you are eating are just two examples of an industry very, very much still learning how to crawl), each new piece of our offline internet, if you will, will require you download an app to access it. Can you image, then, a world in which you have an app for your fork, your glass, your car, your toothbrush, your watch, your absolutely EVERYTHING. Yea, it’s an app-overload and no one wants to live in that. 

And thanks to Google, we’re already preparing not to do just that. Internet of Things, we’re almost ready for you

Facebook Identity Data Could Outsmart Google

Love using Facebook data to segment and target your ads to customers and lookalikes on the platform? Welp, this week, Facebook relaunched its Atlas ad platform, which allows people just like you to use the same segmenting and targeting strategies that you use on Facebook everywhere else on the web, too. 

Why does any of this matter, except to marketers? Because Facebook is setting itself up as a direct competitor to Google, and using its position as the world’s largest data broker to seriously beat Google at its own game: online advertising. See, because Facebook has more information on its users (all one billion plus of us) than simple our search and browsing history (looking at you, Google), the company can provide much more in-depth and holistic views of a company’s target audiences. 

And Facebook’s Atlas is geared up not just for desktop advertising, but for advertising across the gamut of technologies including mobile. 

“Cookies don’t work as well on mobile apps, which presents a problem for advertisers, who are hungry to penetrate that increasingly popular digital space,” wrote Yahoo! tech columnist Alyssa Bereznak. “Cookies also don’t tell advertisers what percentage of people bought something after seeing it in an online or mobile advertisement. Atlas does both of those things.”

Looks like Facebook is finally pulling its “biggest data broker in the game” card, and it just might work. 

In other news, Facebook did apologize for performing a creepy and non-consensual psychology experiment on you. So, there’s that.