The Sunday Mail
THE tech industry is awash with buzzwords, which people sometimes use loosely without understanding their meanings. Datafication is one such term, often associated with the Big Data industry.
Datafication first came up in 2013 and has continued to be relevant since then.
Datafication is the process of turning everyday experiences and behaviours into digital data.
For instance, tracking your steps on a fitness app as you go about your day, monitoring your online shopping habits, or analysing your social media posts.
Datafication is the practice of collecting and utilising large amounts of data to gain insights and make informed decisions.
Technology is advancing at alarming levels and datafication is becoming increasingly sophisticated. At times, without us being aware, datafication has become increasingly common in our day-to-day lives.
While browsing the internet, companies often track your online activity to understand your interests and preferences better. This allows them to tailor their marketing campaigns and product offerings to suit your needs better. Let us look at Netflix, a prime example of a company that utilises datafication to enhance its business operations.
While watching your favourite movie or series, Netflix collects vast amounts of data on your viewing habits, preferences and behaviours.
This data enables Netflix to personalise its content recommendations for you, increasing customer engagement and retention.
Netflix then analyses data to decide which TV shows and movies to produce or acquire. By analysing viewership data, Netflix can determine which types of content are most popular among its users and invest accordingly.
Businesses use datafication for decision-making. By analysing large datasets, businesses can identify opportunities for improvement and target their marketing efforts more effectively.
Progressive businesses intend to improve their customers’ experiences continuously. Datafication will provide them with information to achieve this.
Health datafication unfolds on several scales and registers, including data-driven medical research and public health infrastructure, clinical health care and self-care practices.
For instance, health care providers use electronic health records (EHRs). EHRs allow for centralised storage of patient medical histories, test results and other health-related data.
This data can then be accessed by health care professionals across different locations, improving patient outcomes and reducing the risk of medical errors.
Wearable devices collect data on various metrics, including heart rate, sleep patterns and physical activity levels. This data can then be analysed to gain insights into an individual’s health and well-being.
Health datafication plays a critical role in public health. During the Covid-19 pandemic, health officials relied heavily on data to track the spread of the virus, identify hotspots and inform public policy decisions.
For example, contact tracing apps have been developed to help contain outbreaks by identifying individuals who may have been exposed to the virus.
However, there are concerns about the privacy and security of health data.
As more data is collected and shared, there is a risk that this information could be exposed or exploited by malicious actors.
It is, therefore, important for health care organisations to prioritise data privacy and implement robust security measures to protect sensitive medical information.
Fintech companies also use data and technology to transform traditional financial services. In recent years, fintech companies have leveraged on data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to create innovative financial products and services.
They collect and analyse large amounts of data to gain insights into customer behaviour and preferences, identify trends and develop personalised recommendations.
This allows them to offer more targeted and customised financial solutions that better meet the needs of their customers.
Datafication has significantly disrupted the financial industry, allowing fintech companies to challenge established players by offering faster, cheaper and more efficient services.
Across all sectors, datafication can be incredibly useful in many ways. However, it raises concerns about privacy and security.
We should not be comfortable with our data being collected and stored by third-party companies, especially if we have yet to learn how the data will be used.
There is always the risk that this data could be hacked or stolen, potentially leading to identity theft or cybercrime.
Regardless of these concerns, datafication is a critical trend expected to continue shaping our world in the coming years.
As more and more devices connect to the internet, the generated data will only continue to grow.
To harness the full potential of datafication, it will be necessary for individuals and organisations alike to carefully consider issues of privacy, security and ethical data use.
John Tseriwa is a tech entrepreneur and a digital transformation advocate focusing on delivering business solutions powered by 4IR technologies. He can be contacted at: [email protected] or +263773289802.