Big Data is leveraging the power of human creativity by unlocking valuable insights gleaned from massive archives of data acquired by devices and databases. In the process, it is transforming the field of new product development. Designers now have the ability to look deeper look into the preferences and habits of their target consumers than ever before.

Here is a look at what Big Data is, how it can help both consumers and manufacturers and the ways it is revolutionizing the process of bringing products to the marketplace.

What Is Big Data?

Whether using an electronic device, driving a car, or watching television just about every activity these days has something tracking it. Product makers today have the ability to monitor an amazing array of actions. Their goal is to make better decisions in research and marketing.

All that information compiled over time represents a huge archive of valuable data as product users leave a digital trace throughout the day. These vast volumes of data previously represented a major challenge as trying to parse out valuable business insights from such massive archives proved nearly impossible.

Today, thanks to every-increasing computational power available via cloud technology, Big Data allows companies to unlock the most valuable consumer insights scattered amongst their consumer data.

What Is the Benefit of Big Data?

The more a researcher knows about a problem, the better he can find a solution. The greater understanding a retailer has about his customer base, the more precisely he can stock his shelves with products that shoppers will spend their money on.

Manufacturers use it to understand the buying habits and preferences of you, their consumer. That makes it easier to target you when they come out with a new product or campaign. Retailers can figure out ahead of time what products will make a hit in the marketplace,

Insurers can track the habits of drivers and homeowners. Telecoms can use it to predict who is ready to switch carriers.

But the benefits extend beyond consumerism. Police use CAMO to predict what locations robbers are likely to target and set up sting operations. City traffic departments use Big Data to predict daily commuter volume and synchronize traffic lights accordingly.

How Does Big Data Affect Product Design?

Data has always been behind each new product design. Humans have collected and traded knowledge since the time of the cave dwellers. Sharing information, they learned from mistakes, gathered critical input, educated each other. The result has been millennia of product innovation.

Big Data is sharing writ large. It is the latest shift driving innovation through data design. The huge volume of insights is a veritable treasure trove for product designers.  Big Data spotlights the needs, preferences and habits of consumers and helps guide the creative process. The process is based on data collection that is pervasive, rapid and overwhelming in its magnitude.

Leveraging Insight

Product design still requires creativity and personal insight, though it is now coupled with collective insights and the daily actions of millions of consumers. Products designed using Big Data take into consideration the lifestyle of consumers from the very start.

With the help of Big Data, products are designed with the user in mind. Designers can now know how consumers think, what they prefer and how they will use the new product. That means they can produce a product that contains the exact features that enable the greatest and most practical value to the end user.

With Big Data, companies don’t waste their time on products that won’t sell. Research and development departments can use their resources more efficiently when they monitor and analyze first.

Finding the most appropriate data, called data mining, helps researchers pinpoint the real needs of consumers. Using the data in predictive analytics, companies can accurately anticipate how it will do in the marketplace.

The Apple Watch & Big Data

Apple was slow to get into Big Data, but now it is a market leader in the space. Millions of iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches collect billions of bits of data every single day.

Thousands of apps made for these devices are sharing data to the benefit of other users. One of the most robust areas where this phenomenon can be seen is in health and fitness. Apple recently teamed up with IBM to develop a range of mobile apps for the health and fitness market. Other popular apps use Big Data in the fields of personal finance and travel.

The Apple Watch is the epitome of Big Data. The large number of apps made for the watch use it. At the same time, Big Data was essential for its very design. The company collected statistics from its range of products. It then used this data to decide what features to incorporate into the watch.

An example of a new feature using Big Data methodology is the Siri voice recognition features on Apple devices. The data collected by Siri is sent to cloud analytic sites. There millions of commands are inspected, compared and used to improve the electronic recognition of speech patterns. This leads to further refinements, providing users with a better product.

Big Data and Diapers at Proctor & Gamble

Proctor & Gamble, better known as P&G, is a consumer products behemoth. Their corporate policy is aimed at making the best possible use of Big Data. Since they have over 1,500 websites with over one billion annual visitors, it makes sense.

P&G is using simulation analytics to design to design the best possible diaper. The aim is an optimal product performance, which is certainly good news to parents. Big Data is at the heart of the process.

In preparing the design, researchers look at myriad variables, altering potential models virtually to find the best model. P&G prepared simulations of thousands of diapers to find the perfect disposable diaper. This process was not feasible when each new model had to be prepared by hand.

When concocting their newest dishwashing detergent, P&G researchers used predictive analytics to figure out how water would change fragrance molecules at various points during the washing operation. Using simulations, they could make sure the soap smelled the way the person doing the cleaning prefers.

Big Data is also central to every P&G marketing campaign. According to the company’s CIO, has “institutionalized data visualization as a primary tool of management.”

Companies are using Big Data to transform statistics about how you interact with the world around you into practical products. The next generation of your favorite gizmo will incorporate tweaks based on how you use it today. And the maker of the gizmo will then sell the upgraded version to you based on millions of micro actions collected from you and other consumers. Big Data is revolutionizing the type of products that are sold and how they are sold.