Editorial: Big Data and Its Opportunities

M Daud Ahmed
Editor, December 2014

The key objective of the New Zealand Journal of Applied Business Research (NZJABR) is to disseminate business research findings that are drawn on contemporary issues. During the past few years, most manuscripts focussed on problems and issues that are related to changing requirement of reporting and sustainability. While these are important for New Zealand businesses, especially small to medium enterprises (SMEs), but many of the studies are not forward looking and do not target the growth and innovation. Businesses are at a crossroad for utilising the opportunities of modern information technology. Big data is a concept and a recent technological innovation that is expected to create the future proof business opportunities.

Traditionally, large business data has been generated from internal operations, manufacture and transaction processes, and enterprise management. During the past half century, researchers and practitioners focussed on developing concepts, theories, and technologies and tools for managing and processing gigabyte to terabyte range data into information for decision-making, product development, customer service, business promotion, and organisational management. Gradually, concepts and technologies have been updated for external data integration for competitor analysis, benchmarking, sustainability reporting and management of supply chain and global organisations. However, the recent phenomenal growth of widely used information and communication technology (ICT) devices and systems, especially the Internet, mobile phone, tablet, sensor, social media, and multimedia have been generating both structured and unstructured data at an exponential rate from terabyte to exabyte range, commonly termed as ‘Big data’. Most of these data types had never been considered for business usage in the past, but nowadays, many strategists and policy analysts have been using or are increasing willing to use the big data for scenario analysis and decision making. Since the speed of creation of this high volume and complex data significantly varies to those of conventional data, current information management tools are incapable of handling and processing them for exploiting useful and usable business opportunities.

A number of global technological companies e.g. IBM, Google, Oracle, Microsoft have introduced generic ‘big data analytics’ tool for managing the big data. These analytical tools are customisable and can be used for analysing business scenarios through identifying and displaying people’s behavioural patterns graphically. These tools are capable of analysing the gap between people’s expectations and their actual activities. Many big data analytic systems have also been developed for specific purposes e.g. health care support, insurance, crime and security management, city planning, etc. While this sounds very complex and cumbersome to embrace this idea and implement the big data analytics, many businesses, councils and government departments have successfully implemented this analytical tool with the support of specialist service providers and created new opportunities. In order to explore scope and prospects of big data, academics and practitioners need to undertake more research activities in identifying collaborative opportunities of big data and off-the-shelf analytic tools.

The New Zealand Journal of Applied Business Research (NZJABR) Volume 12, Number 2 features four articles focussing four different aspects, namely KiwiSaver investment opportunity, New Zealand energy market structure, CSR disclosure in financial reporting, and impacts of system design on the adoption of mobile commerce. The first article entitled “Assessing KiwiSaver Fund Providers” by William J. Trainor Jr., examines the ten largest fund providers of New Zealand’s KiwiSaver retirement savings scheme. The paper finds that the KiwiSaver funds’ performance is lower than that of index funds and suggests that the KiwiSaver service providers should consider offering index type funds that minimize fees and maximize wealth accumulation.

The second article entitled “From Monopoly to Co-opetition: New Zealand’s Electricity Industry” by Jill Hooks and Nitha Palakshappa explores the relationships among the firms, operating in the New Zealand electricity industry as a result of Government initiatives to introduce competition into the industry. It observes that co-operation, co-opetition and sometimes collaboration have been evolved in the energy sector from forced relationships. In particular, this article endeavours to extend our understanding of how organisations compete and co-operate simultaneously and how this impacts on the dynamics within a particular contextual setting.

The third article entitled, “Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosures during the Global Financial Crisis: New Zealand evidence” by Sydelle Pinto, Charl De Villiers and Grant Samkin explore the prevalence and volume of CSR disclosures by the top 50 New Zealand listed companies before, during, and after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. The study reveals a general upward trend in CSR disclosures during the period. The authors conclude that during reduced business confidence, companies operating within industries more prone to public scrutiny or those industries more sensitive to the social and environmental impacts of corporate operations increased their CSR disclosures, whereas other companies decreased their disclosures.

The fourth article entitled, “Impacts of Website Design on the Adoption Intention of Mobile Commerce: Gender as a Moderator” by Ying Lu and Karyn Rastrick investigates the influencing factors of website design on the adoption intention of mobile commerce (m-commerce). In addition, this research also examines how gender as a moderator influences the relationship between website design and adoption intention of m-commerce. This study observes that navigation design significantly impacts consumers’ perceived ease of use of the mobile website, and females feel stronger for this design than their males’ counterpart.