Take the Big Data Pregnancy Test

photo credit: Adam Schilling via photopin cc

photo credit: Adam Schilling via photopin cc

Today, leading Big Data companies such as Walmart can for instance access every receipt issued since 1999. This allows Walmart detailed insights into customer behaviour and leads to adapted positioning for goods in one example: The company now positions beer next to baby nappies since fathers shopping for nappies are more likely to drink at home than go to the pub.

One famous example of how insightful data can be, was the case of a 16 year old girl shopping at Walmart. She was sent coupons for baby related articles, e.g. nappies and baby nutrition, since her shopping behaviour indicated that she was pregnant. The father angrily called the store and was complaining that his daughter was sent these vouchers since she is just 16 and it would be highly unlikely that she was pregnant. Two weeks later, the father rang the store again and apologized since his daughter told him that she was actually pregnant. Continue reading