Monday, January 27, 2014

Most Simplest Example of Big Data Ever

When I have to travel by air to somewhere, I go to a specific website to search and book my flight. Every time I visit that website, I encounter the same experience. I have to go through the same steps according to my same preferences, every time I need to book the flight.

Here is what I always do to book my flight at that website on each visit:

  1. Sign in with my userid
  2. Type in my origin and destination (90% of time same)
  3. Type in dates
  4. Sort the results by lowest price
  5. Search for flights with lowest price and least hops (Direct are ideal)
  6. I prefer red eye flights, so I also look for them.
  7. After searching for long time, I come close to what I want and then book it.
Despite of my log-in, despite of my usual pattern of purchase, website doesn't know what I am looking for. After my log-in, all they present to me is my personal details, limited travel history, reward points, and offers based on those reward points.

In other words, they present me with Small Data.

How nice would it be, if after sign-up they ask me in simple words:

Hey Fahd, are you still your old miser-self and want to get the cheapest direct flight(s) from Darwin to Sydney at that godforsaken time at night?

I would then just laugh, click yes, give me travel dates, and they would present me with options tailored to me habits. I know they would have to go through lots of data, anlayze it, slice it, dice it, and then come up with that above statement. I know I am not their only customer, and so they have to do the same for hundreds of thousands of their customers with more complex patterns, along with sifting through data of their partner airlines, may be hotels, car rentals, etc.

In other words, they have to go through Big Data.

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