Big data seems to be one of the core topics of 2013, not just in tourism but across all industry sectors. Companies worldwide are investing resources into big data research and are implementing solutions in terms of storing these high volumes of data and also finding new ways of analysing the meaning of the information for their organisations. However, with the increase of data being generated, the concept of big data is also changing and becoming more complex (Cisco).
Evolution of Connectivity
At the moment, a large amount of devices are still unconnected to their environment. In the near future, a lot of these devices will evolve in order to connect the unconnected; the infrastructure for that is in place. Clearly, an evolution of connectivity is occurring, from machine to machine, bringing sensors in that can connect everything. The amount of data increase is exponential, although only 0.2 of the world is connected at this moment. The potential is thus extraordinary, and an explosive growth of intelligent devices is predicted. Currently, there are about 13 billion smart devices in use, from computers to iPhones, Android phones or iPads. By 2020, this number is predicted to grow to a total of 50 billion devices, which amounts to about six intelligent devices per person.
All data is not equal
When looking at the data, one thing becomes quite obvious: all data is not created equal. In the technical community, big data is all about volume, variety and velocity. Big data deals with capturing and storing data sets and then running analytics on the data, and its value over time is growing. Information needs to be captured in real time and analysed in order for companies to be able to make the right decisions on the basis of it; decisions which also need to be made in real time in order to be most efficient.
Turning data into wisdom
Big data really emphasises the need to turn data into wisdom. Destinations and tourism organisations really need to make sense of the existing data, especially with regards to their future developments and investments. Location-based services can really increase the value of data that travellers can use within a destination. Therefore, it is really important to analyse the data available properly in order to use it in real time. Big data might not be as big in tourism as in other sectors, however, tourism organisations should look into its importance for them and ensure that their data is collected, stored and analysed most efficiently, in real time.
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