It is a common mistake to confuse data analytics with big data analytics. Yes, they are different things. While big data has been conceptualized well within the age of the internet, not two decades ago, the concept of data analysis has been there for thousands of years.
What is data analytics?
It is the study of data which leads to insights. Ancient civilizations of Babilonia, China, had used an analytical approach in solving various problems regarding distribution of wealth and governance. We will look at some such instances of data analytics in the recent history of mankind and try to understand how big data analysis is different from the traditional analysis.
See more: What Is Augmented Analytics?
Florence Nightingale in the Crimean war
Florence NIghtingale is revered across the world for her phenomenal role as a trainer of nurses during the Crimean war. This identity often supersedes her incredible achievement as a statistician.
Florence used a graphic data visualization to highlight the importance of hygiene and cleanliness when it comes to dealing with patients. Her visualization model was groundbreaking and it still turns heads.
The 7 year long Census
The census of the USA which started in 1880 took 7 years to complete. The data was simply too vast for the then standards. A statistician Herman Hollerith came up with a solution. He came up with one of the earliest predecessors of the modern computer, the tabulating machine.
This machine could collect and process data recorded on punch cards. With the help of the tabulating machine the US census in 1890 was completed in no more than 18 months. The tabulating machine made its place in the history of computers.
Abraham Wald and the fighter planes that did not crash
The second world war saw some of the deadliest aerial combat. The United States Navy employed Hungarian mathematician Abraham Wald to gain a statistical advantage in battle. The raging question was how to distribute the armour on the planes so that they do not become overweight. The available data was the planes which came back even after being hit.
The engineers wanted to reinforce those parts of the plane which suffered the most bullet hits. Wald has a different idea. He proposed that if the planes are returning with the bullet holes in the wings and the fuselage, that means those parts can resist the bullets, therefore the parts without the bullet holes should be armoured. Classic example of data analysis indeed.
The present scenario
These were some interesting stories of data analytics from the past. We are in the age of big data. The sheer amount and variety of data necessitates the use of advanced technology for data processing. The computational abilities of machines have grown manifold. There are big data analytics courses on offer for aspirants. We have seen a steady democratization of data and the procedures involved in data analytics.
A combination of modern technology and well founded statistical models has helped the big data analytics industry reach great heights.