Methods of data collection by companies

Methods of data collection by companies

Big data has begun to announce a global tipping point in the high tech industry, providing enterprises and governments with a huge amount of data on virtually everything that people choose to do online. But big data goes beyond online cookies and tracking.

Using big data can give businesses an interesting, and sometimes surprising, insight into our lives. This article highlights some of the most unusual ways that big data can be collected.

Loyalty cards

The use of loyalty cards can bring some benefits, as it encourages loyal customers and encourages them to make more purchases.

At the same time, customers should be aware that every time they use loyalty or credit cards, their purchase details are tracked and stored.

While this helps retailers understand what products are sold to different groups of customers, this information can also be used to create detailed customer profiles that can then be sold to advertisers and other businesses.


Online players are not exempt from collecting large data.

Permanent connection to the Internet of devices allows game developers to instantly access large amounts of data, even if the game is a single-player.

Whenever a user encounters difficulties at a certain level, makes a purchase in the application, installs or deletes a game, plays for a long period of time, or gives up after a few minutes, this information is tracked and stored.

Satellite Snapshots

One interesting source of big data is what you can see from the sky. With the development of Google Earth and Google Maps satellite data became publicly available. This allows experienced analysts to create amazingly complete pictures of certain areas and even begin to understand the types of people who live and work in these places.

Employer Databases

HR departments can use big data to profile their employees and quantify their productivity in the workplace. The history of employees within a company may be of general interest, but the big data also includes less intuitive numbers, including:

    • The amount of time that employees spend with certain programs on their computers


    • The time of day when employees are most active


    • The time when employees first turn on their devices


Information documented by technology can often find application in large data sets and help to create an understanding of employee quality.

Your mailbox

Modern mail services are stores of large amounts of user data.

Although the information below does not apply to all services, it does apply to some of the most popular email service providers, including Google and Yahoo. Both of these companies use algorithms to scan the content of your email according to certain keywords in order to provide advertising targeted at your interests.

For example, this may include links to book hotels after you receive an email describing your upcoming trip.

Social Media Activity

Social networking sites are another major provider of big data. Social network users are often willing to provide information about their personal life to such services, and agreements on service terms usually give the sites the right to store and use this information at their discretion.

However, big data analytics can also be used to document which features users agree to disable, which records they delete and how often they visit the site on different days. This information can be used to create detailed profiles of users’ habits and determine what information is important to them.

Use big data

From online use and applications to credit cards and satellite imagery, companies can now pack our lives into increasingly large data sets. But collecting all that data is one thing, and using it to learn more about customer trends is another.

How this data can be used to provide information about customers and employees.

Your Values from Bird’s-eye Heights

Publicly available satellite data. On the one hand, it is something that cannot show much information. In fact, it seems to us that we see nothing but the location of cities or peculiarities of the area.

However, some analysts say that you can learn a lot about people and organizations based on what you can see from the sky.
For example, a company called HaystaqDNA has developed algorithms that can determine whether residents have solar panels installed on their roofs.

This allows you to have an idea of which residents follow the environment and have enough income to invest in new technologies.

Dataminr is a company that specializes in studying Twitter users based on their messages. With more than 500 million tweets published daily, organizations may be interested to know which tweets are more important. This can help give a sense of breaking news or other information.

Dataminr views these tweets in real time, using algorithms to classify them based on importance, user reputation and information structure. For example, if a sufficient number of users are tweeting on a specific topic, Dataminr may send a warning to customers that the news may be important.

“Predict employee success

HR departments are usually interested in creating detailed profiles of their employees and trying to quantify performance in the workplace.

However, some companies specialize in deeper analysis.

For example, Evolv, which works with big data, suggests that even the web browser that a person chooses can say something about future performance.

Company data shows that users who use alternative browsers, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, often perform better than people who use the default browsers that come with their systems.

A guide to your next purchase

Loyalty and credit card data can provide retailers with more information than how much they have sold a particular product. With more data, information about everything a customer chooses to buy can be sold to advertising companies.

Advertising companies do this so that they can target consumers with a specific purchase history. For example, a company may want to send out advertising to everyone who bought a certain porridge for breakfast last month.

Detection of changes in lifestyle

Shopping data can do more than allow companies to focus on specific advertisements.

In one case, Target was able to use big data to find out that one of her clients was pregnant and later sent her coupons for baby products.

Statistician Andrew Pole developed a formula consisting of 25 products that determined the probability of pregnancy when the products were purchased together.

People who unknowingly participated in the experiment did not know that they were pregnant during the experiment, but later confirmed that the Polack system was correct.

Maximize shopping in app

Tracking players as they play their favorite mobile or console games can give a clear idea of the actions that are often taken before a player decides to spend extra money.

Using tools such as HoneyLizer™, software developers can include ads in their games and maximize the chances for future purchases without distracting the user.

Scan e-mails for interests

Many companies often take an active interest in the content of user emails.

Suppose you send an email to a friend about a pet using a popular service such as Google Gmail.

Subsequently, when you see ads for pet products both in Gmail and in other Google areas, it is often the result of analysis of large data.

Google Ads uses algorithms to scan email and deliver targeted ads depending on the common themes of users.

This lack of information

One of the interesting ways for companies to use social networks is to understand what messages or topics are deleted and why. Recently, a group of researchers from Harvard University was able to take a picture of all the posts on social networks in China, and then compare the list with a picture of the posts after the government has censored them.

After comparing the first shot with the second one, the researchers were able to identify the types of posts usually censored by the Chinese authorities and, in turn, better understand the ruling government.

Big Data Legality


The understanding provided by big data can be extensive as companies continue to innovate and develop new ways to understand their customers based on the increasing amount of data available to them.

However, some privacy advocates may question the legitimacy of using big data.

Big Data: How can companies collect your data?

Service Terms and Conditions

When you try to understand how companies can collect different information about people, it is natural that companies get this data illegally. In fact, however, not only do companies act within their legal rights when they collect and use this information, but they do so with the explicit legal consent of their clients.

Companies can quite easily gain legal access to your data, often even before users realize that they have given their approval. The key here is to look more closely at the terms of service (ToS) agreements and understand what they mean for customer privacy.

ToS agreements are long texts that appear when you subscribe to a service. As a prerequisite to creating a new account or using a new program, users are often asked to read and then accept the terms. Since these terms are long and full of sometimes confusing legal proposal structures, most people simply click “accept” and go on to create their accounts.

However, users may not realize that they have actually “signed” a legal agreement allowing businesses to do what they have included in the terms. If a company has a clause that allows collection of customer purchase history data, and then you click “agree,” the user loses any legal right to bring a dispute.

The problem is compounded by the fact that some companies include provisions that give them the right to change the terms without notifying users. This means that by simply “agreeing” to ToS once, when you first create an account, users actually agree to any changes that the company wants to make, even if those changes include increasingly invasive data collection procedures.

“Known Examples

Each large web service supports its own ToS specifics, and it would be impossible to outline everything that the user agrees with in each case online. But for the sake of taste of what can be included in the agreement, some company examples include:

  • Google – Google reserves the right to store all search history and use it and other information about users for future services. Google also keeps track of users on other websites that use Google widgets or analytical software.
  • YouTube – YouTube stores everything that users choose to publish. Simply removing videos from a site does not actually remove them from YouTube servers. The Service also reserves the right to remove user-generated content without notice and may change its terms without prior notice.
  • Facebook – Facebook includes provisions of the Terms of Service that allow tracking users on other sites and automatically share any data posted on the site with other businesses and services. Users of the Facebook Android app may also be surprised to learn that ToS has an option to record audio and video at any time without user consent.
  • Netflix – ToS for Netflix includes both the right to disclose user information without prior notice and a waiver of the right to class action against the company

WARNING! All links in the articles may lead to malicious sites or contain viruses. Follow them at your own risk. Those who purposely visit the article know what they are doing. Do not click on everything thoughtlessly.


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