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Management Report

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Big Data: The Epicenter of Industry Shakeup

Big Data: The Epicenter of Industry Shakeup

CHAE Seung-Byung

July 16, 2012

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2012 marks the start of "Big Data" being recognized globally as an indispensable tool to resolve economic and social issues. Big data refers to datasets that are so large and complex that they overwhelm the ability of common software tools to manage, distribute and utilize the information efficiently. Much of the big data today consists of semi-structured or unstructured items such as music, photos, videos and posts to social media sites that are generated very fast on a colossal scale.

Just 10 years ago, this kind of data was regarded as miscellaneous clutter. But the spread of smart mobile devices that can transmit mounds of data instantly and recent technological developments in collecting and analyzing it has unlocked the potential application of big data across a broad spectrum.

For example, in the past, collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data on a target group was prohibitively difficult, so the characteristics of population would be studied through sample surveys and statistics gathering. Now, with ubiquitous sensors in smart devices and wide-scale micro data collection possible, thorough analysis on any individual's behavior in various environments is possible. Data can now be completely sorted and quantified and target groups can be precisely analyzed without any distortions. Furthermore, as more diverse categories of data become available, many relationships and contexts that had not been apparent before are becoming visible. Due to the high speed of data circulation, the time between an activity and awareness of its attendant data has been reduced significantly, giving rise to "nowcasting," which enables understanding situations in real time.

The improved handling of big data opens up a variety of potential applications in both the public and private sectors, where the need to better understand customers and rapid provision of differentiated services is continuously increasing. Big data on the behavior, feelings and environmental trends of individuals can be analyzed and used to provide context-based services to each policy beneficiary and individual customer. Hence, differentiated services can be developed despite budgetary or labor limitations. Accordingly, securing and using high quality big data is an essential condition for differentiating competitiveness, both at the enterprise and the national level.

On a macro level, big data was recognized as the most important technology that would be developed worldwide by the World Economic Forum in January this year. In the US, the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House announced a US$200 million big data R&D investment plan in March to be pursued by six government agencies. In Korea, the Presidential Council on National ICT Strategies presented big data as an important strategic area last year and a government-wide big data promotion policy is being prepared

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