Aquaculture North America

Demystifying Big Data

November 6, 2020
By Lalou Ramos

Big Data is a tech buzzword that gets mixed reviews across all industries. Stories about how our personal data and online activities are being tracked to influence buying decisions or advance political agenda give Big Data a bad name. In truth, it is neither bad nor good. Big Data is, simply put, a large volume of data produced in increasing volumes and with ever-increasing speed. It is much more data than you normally deal with on your computer. It is being used to transform businesses, including aquaculture. You may not know it, but your farm is most likely already using Big Data.

Let’s try to dig deeper into the concept through this Q&A.

Big Data sounds harmless as information has long been available anywhere. So why are people concerned about it?
There are concerns about personal and proprietary information being stolen. However there are technologies in place you can apply to protect your data as well as laws governing how data must be taken, shared or stored.

Can I just not concern myself with Big Data?
Data is power. Information is a resource you can use to your advantage. In business, insights are valuable because they allow you to make informed decisions. The best insights are information taken from as many relevant sources.


Can you cite some examples about how Big Data is relevant to seafood farmers like me?
Big Data benefits all industries, including aquaculture. For instance, it enables you to know and understand the needs of your customers and clients better. An example of this is a tool called CRM, or customer relationship management. Utilizing Big Data, CRM helps identify who your customers are, how they behave and interact with you. Big Data is also behind the programs that help you manage supply chain from inventory to procurement of raw materials and shipment. Companies with huge, diverse workforce use information from Big Data to analyze employee performance, set working standards and enhance their productivity. In addition, market data helps you set appropriate price for your products and services.

Aren’t those technologies too complex and costly for small farmers?
Well, small players do not need to process Big Data themselves; it is done for them. Applications and programs have been developed to make it easy for farmers to extract information and insights. Those programs are designed with easy-to-use interfaces and require minimum technology experience. You do not even have to buy the programs and install them. They are available in cloud and can be accessed through affordable subscriptions. Nowadays, those tools are no longer exclusive to big players with deep pockets. Big Data democratizes fish farming, providing a level playing field for both small and bit players.

What technologies based on Big Data should I pay attention to?
All the emerging technology in aquaculture are powered by Big Data. The sensors that enable you to automate fish feeding take information in real time from your farm. How it establishes the conditions necessary to release the feed for your fish are based on information from Big Data. The same holds true for things like water and fish health monitors. The beauty of using these technologies is that while they make you more efficient and productive and your business profitable, they also give you the opportunity to refine the technology further.

How does that happen and why will it benefit me?
The data taken by these sensors from your farms and those of others are collected and become part of Big Data, which are then stored, analyzed and applied. Those insights will be used to further refine the technology to make it more useful to you. By simply using technology powered by Big Data, you are helping the industry move forward.

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