Data analysis: analysis of human consumption in contemporary societies

Our current human societies are, with a few exceptions, consumerist societies that are functioning according to a capitalist model. We are therefore consumers who live in an environment where everything can be bought.

The need to make an inventory of existing stocks, in order to better manage them, has led to an increasing demand for management tools. Paperwork has shown its limits and the demand for precise information has been growing: what is the current stock production? Where is it being allocated? What is their turnover speed?

As such, database management technology development has been skyrocketing like never before. All companies started to collect masses of data. With the help of globalisation, this data was exchanged out of necessity. First within the same company and then between companies of a same industrial group. The development of data collection has increased over the years and so did the need for more refined analyses. Not only the product is being analysed, but also those who consume it.

The use of credit cards has further amplified this phenomenon. It is possible to track the consumption profile of an individual, a group, a city, or even a country. Data is constantly accumulating. The explosion of the Internet and the marketing of related products (computers and smart phones in particular) has meant that everything is now observable, measurable or recordable.

Out of respect for the consumer, the collection of data is anonymised when we want to gather relevant information that does not allow us to exactly define who is consuming. However, it is still possible to collect very specific tendencies that can be derived from those personal consumption experiences. For now, the greatest difficulty no longer lies in the data collection itself, but rather in the interpretation of the available data and the development of better analysis tools.

And that’s where data analysis experts play their role!

Applied MSc programme

The rapid technological transformation of society requires a large number of experts who that have mastered all aspects of data analysis. The last few years have seen the development of new training courses aimed at training this future generation of specialists. Some schools, such as DSTI, offer the Applied MSc in Data Analytics, a business-oriented programme, that will provide the necessary skills to every data analyst who wishes to make a difference in the future.

Data experts are seeking to extract and use the available data to validate a research model (for example: “do people who eat chocolate regularly have more cavities than those who don’t?”), to discover hidden trends that were not obvious when reading raw data (“do immigrants suffer from the same diseases as natives?”) or to create prostheses adapted to people suffering from a genetic disease, to just mention one of the many examples.

Our society is therefore being measured in real time by the countless electronic devices that we use. The astonishing thing about the mountain of data that surrounds us, and which we actively help sharing, is the fact that a data analyst can discover unexpected relationships between products and consumers, and thus enable the development of tools or derivative products.

Who would have thought, some thirty years ago (apart from a few “crazy” science fiction authors) that we would need to use a smartphone on a daily basis to know where to go, to be able to pay for our purchases or to interact with someone on the other side of the world? All this has only been possible through the careful analysis of our needs, such as communication, commercial needs or for our own commodity.

Geolocation, for example, is a pure product of this multi-sectoral analysis. The data collection resulting from our displacements (cartography), combined with the storage of information about companies (physical presence) and the need to move around easily and quickly, has resulted in a high-performance tool that has replaced road maps. Its implementation for the general public is merely a deviation from the vital need for military operators to obtain the same result in another context (locating the enemy in a defined space, hence the need to collect and process the information obtained).

Whichever way you look at it, it is easy to see that the collection, analysis, and processing of large volumes of data has become essential in our modern societies.