Recent articles about Pandora’s and Netflix’s use of big data illustrate why government IT managers should not just focus on data management, data collection and even big data processing. They need to shift the focus from the data producer to the data consumer.
A Wall Street Journal article on Pandora describes how it is mining its big data troves to make inferences on its users’ political affiliation, demographic groups, parental status and income. It is those inferences that are of value to the music service’s advertisers, not the music data listened to.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic looked at Netflix’s efforts to extract useful information from its big data. Netflix’s creation of micro-genres (a form of taxonomic categorization) like “critically acclaimed emotional underdog movies” improves the chances consumers will discover movies that match their tastes and experience based upon past viewing habits.
In both these cases, we see big data is the stepping stone for consumer-centric information production. The Netflix micro-genres are not the trove of big data on movie viewing, or the movie data itself. Instead, it is useful information mined from that data. Likewise, the data containing Pandora users’ demographics and preferences create a way for advertisers to target buyers.