What is Big Data?

Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

Why is Big Data important?

The importance of big data doesn’t revolve around how much data you have, but what you do with it. You can take data from any source and analyze it to find answers that enable:

1) Cost Reductions

2) Time Reductions

3) New product development and optimized offerings

4) Smart decision making

When you combine big data with high-powered analytics, you can accomplish business-related tasks such as:

  • Determining root causes of failures, issues and defects in near-real time.
  • Generating coupons at the point of sale based on the customer’s buying habits.
  • Recalculating entire risk portfolios in minutes.
  • Detecting fraudulent behavior before it affects your organization

Who uses Big Data?

Big data affects organizations across practically every industry. Some of the industries that use Big Data are:

  • Banking
  • Education
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail

How it works:

Before discovering how big data can work for your business, you should first understand where it comes from. The sources for big data generally fall into one of three categories:

Streaming data

This category includes data that reaches your IT systems from a web of connected devices. You can analyze this data as it arrives and make decisions on what data to keep, what not to keep and what requires further analysis.

Social media data

The data on social interactions is an increasingly attractive set of information, particularly for marketing, sales and support functions. It’s often in unstructured or semi-structured forms, so it poses a unique challenge when it comes to consumption and analysis.

Publicly available sources

Massive amounts of data are available through open data sources like the US government’s data.gov, the CIA World Factbook or the European Union Open Data Portal.

 

After identifying all the potential sources for data, consider the decisions you’ll need to make once you begin harnessing information. These include:

How to store and manage it

Whereas storage would have been a problem several years ago, there are now low-cost options for storing data if that’s the best strategy for your business.

How much of it to analyze

Some organizations don’t exclude any data from their analyses, which is possible with today’s high-performance technologies such as grid computing or in-memory analytics. Another approach is to determine upfront which data is relevant before analyzing it.

How to use any insights you uncover

The more knowledge you have, the more confident you’ll be in making business decisions. It’s smart to have a strategy in place once you have an abundance of information at hand.

The final step in making big data work for your business is to research the technologies that help you make the most of big data and big data analytics. Consider:

  • Cheap, abundant storage.
  • Faster processors.
  • Affordable open source, distributed big data platforms, such as Hadoop.
  • Parallel processing, clustering, MPP, virtualization, large grid environments, high connectivity and high throughputs.
  • Cloud computing and other flexible resource allocation arrangements.

 



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