“Big data” has become ubiquitous. Big data in its most generic form refers to data that is large (“volume”), is collected in near real-time (high “velocity”), present in myriad forms (“variety”), and at various levels of trust (“veracity”).

Three trends have fueled the use of big data in the production of products and services. First, there has been an explosion of data available within the company and outside the company in the public domain. In addition to the data generated by traditional transaction-based enterprise systems, planners now have access to vast amounts of data generated from unstructured data sources, such as digital clickstreams, camera and surveillance footage, imagery, social media postings, blog/wiki entries, and forum discussions. Second, supply chains today are heavily instrumented — sensors, tags, trackers, and other smart devices are collecting copious amounts of data in real time on a wide variety of business processes. Third, big data is spilling into the physical world, enabling sense-and-avoid drones, self-driving vehicles, anthropomorphic robots, and “3-D printing,” that not only have the potential to change how products and services are delivered but also can disrupt the economies of local and state governments, and our views on a free and fair society.

The primary focus of this research stream is to take a deep dive into how big data and the associated technologies — Robotics, Blockchains, and 3-D printing — impact businesses and economies they operate in. The promise is more efficient supply chains with innovative products. This promised innovation and efficiency has a flip side. A treasure trove of customer data is now available on customers, raising significant issues of privacy and security. Robots and autonomous vehicles displace people from well-paying jobs. New graduates are unprepared for this new and changing landscape. How do companies, the local economies they compete in, and educational institutions cope with this new challenge?

Key collaborators

Tonya Boone (William and Mary), John Boylan (Lancaster), Robert Fildes (Lancaster), Robert Hicks (William and Mary), Aditya Jain (CUNY), Nada Sanders (Northeastern)

Key publication


Can Google Trends Improve Your Sales Forecast?
Boone, T., Ganeshan, R., Hicks, R.L., Sanders, N.R. (2018). Production and Operations Management, 27(10), 1770-1774.