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What Big Data analytics means for buyers

What Big Data analytics means for buyers

You’ve heard a lot about how you, as a farmer, can use big data analytics to help make better business decisions in your operation. But what about you, as the consumer, the person who does the buying — whether it’s crop inputs for the field or cereal in the grocery store?

Farm Industry News spoke with author and business journalist Russ Banham, and asked him what this uber-information age will mean for the end consumer. There will be several benefits, he says. One is lower-priced goods.

“The more efficient a company is, the less money it spends,” Banham says. “So, on the one hand, one could presume that if a company’s costs of goods came down, maybe the price of the product would come down accordingly. On the other hand, the consumer isn’t going to be bombarded with advertising messages as they have been in the past. The advertising messages will be more targeted, because we will know more about what the consumer needs and wants. So there is just a bit more humanity in the process. And you will have access to goods at a discount.”

Banham cites an example where a consumer, named Mary is in the market for a sundress. A company knows that about Mary based on her search history, showing that she had purchased sunblock and her mouse had hovered over sundresses on the company’s website. She also had posted the words, “I can’t wait to get away” on her Facebook page. The company can then send a message to Mary advertising sundresses at a discount.

Discounts on car insurance are another example in which consumers can benefit from big data, Banham says. “With cars, if you are a good driver, it will be reflected in your driving patterns if you have sensors and cameras in your car and the car is hooked up to data analytics. In terms of the semi-autonomous features, if you have them on your car, presumably there will be fewer crashes, fewer insurance claims and lower premiums. So you have that going for you, too. So, there are lots of positive benefits.”

Data privacy

But, what about the issue of data privacy? Don’t big data analytics infringe on people’s right to privacy? Banham outlines some of those issues, too, and says there are strict rules in place to prevent that from happening. Data privacy laws include, for example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Payment Card Industry (PCI) with regard to credit card data.

“There is always the risk of data breaches and the like, but companies by and large using these systems are following the privacy rules,” he says. “It is not like I am learning things about you that I am not allowed to learn. If you are Mary, I don’t know you are ‘Mary.’ I just know that this person is hovering on our website.”

“I know all of this can sound rather Big Brother-ish,” Banham adds. “But the horse has left the barn. There’s nothing you can do about it. And there will be benefits for us. It’s the stuff we don’t want people to know. For example, I don’t want people to know my medical history, my income, my credit card number. But that has more to do with cybersecurity. I do a lot of writing about that, too.”

You can find Banham’s work on his website,

Decision Time: Technology is independently produced by Penton Agriculture and brought to you through the support of Case IH. For more information, visit

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