To say that by Sujain Thomas. Big data is the most hyped phrase in the business community today is an understatement. Everywhere you look, big data seems to be the topic, from online forums, business conferences, and webinars to the database sector. So popular is the phrase that as far back as 2012, the Global Language Monitor (GLM) rated it the most confounding word of the year.
As a business owner in the contemporary environment, all this hype can be overwhelming and in the confusion, you might miss out on any potential benefits emanating from this concept. To survive in the modern business environment, you need to quickly adapt to emerging trends and concepts and today, big data seems to be the in thing. It might be cliché but information is power and by learning what big data is all about, you will be in a better position to leverage its benefits.
Big data in detail
So, what is big data? There are hundreds of definitions attempting to make this concept clear but in the most basic sense, this is a term used for enormous datasets of both structured and unscarred data. So vast are the volumes of data that the ordinary data software cannot capture and analyze it. It therefore makes it necessary to have upgraded IT infrastructure and tools to harness the power of these volumes of data.
This is the most basic understanding of big data and to fully appreciate the extent of the concept, it is better to use the more detailed and now-mainstream definition given by industry analyst Doug Laney. In his comprehensive big data definition, Doug argued that big data conforms to three ‘Vs’ namely:
• Volume – Businesses and other organization have multiple methods of data collection and these include machine-to-machine transactions, business transactions, social media, and point-of-sale transactions among others. So much data is being generated and whilestorage was previously a challenge, there are big data applications that help organizations store and access their data seamlessly.
• Velocity – A characteristic of big data is the fact that data flow is at an unprecedented speed and this calls for timely response to leverage every piece of information that comes to your database. Data collection tools such as RFID tags, sensors and smart metering are making real-time data management more important.
• Variety – Data flow is not only in structured formats as was previously witnessed. Today, you have to be ready to handle vast amounts of data in all formats including structured formats such as numerical data and unstructured formats including financial transactions, stock ticker data, email, video and audio.
While this was the big data description that become popular in the 2000s, many other industry analysts and big data application developers now include data complexity and variability as other features of big data.
Big data as an opportunity
Looking at these descriptions of big data, it looks like something only big companies would be interested in. However, according to a review published on Forbes, big data is recommended for all businesses; from Fortune 500 brands to home-based operations. Failure to leverage big data has repeatedly been described as defeatists because there are many tools available for affordable data collection, analysis, and interpretation.
Well, big data is no longer about fascination with the vast volumes of data your business generates but how such data can be used to boost your operations. Data is only valuable as an asset for your business if it can be translated through data analytics into actionable insight.
Now, is big data an opportunity? If you have watched the movie MoneyBall, you clearly know what data is all about. It is all about leveraging the data flowing to your business to make the right moves at the right time with minimal resources. The holy grail of big data is about now; the ability to gather information and quickly translate it into the right action.
With the increased data coming to your database, it is advisable to go for professional database administration. For a small business, the best option would be outsourcing your DBA services to a remote DBA to cut costs while at the same time leveraging the latest technologies in big data.
Among the advantages you gain by leveraging big data in your business include:
1. Better decision making
Any business decision, be it personnel recruitment, sales promotion, product launch, price reduction or any other, will be made easily through the most comprehensive insight. A good example is the development of Wal-Mart’s resultant Polaris search engine, which was done by leveraging click stream data from over45 million monthly shoppers. This platform has seen a 15% boost in the number online shoppers completing a purchase.
2. Big data as an asset
Data runs modern commerce and the best brands in the market capitalize on their unique ability to collect and analyze data. Google and Facebook are the best examples of companies using big data as an asset. You might not be in a position to sell your data but the fact that you have so much insight within your business means product development and innovation, marketing strategies and other major decisions can be made easily. You have an edge over the competition.
3. Better internal efficiency and operations
With the increasing cost of doing business, it is important for businesses to find new ways to enhance efficiency by optimizing operations. Big data can help improve operations by tracking employee performance, optimizing delivery routes, cutting wastage by eliminating ineffective processes and so much more.
4. Improved customer experience
What do customers love? Why are you experiencing high shopping cart abandonment? Which products best suit your target customers? John Deere is a good example of a company making new products aided by big data.
Of course, there is so much more than big data can do for your business. There are cutting-edge technologies being developed to help businesses get the most out of their generated data. Remember, it is not just about increasing volumes of data in your business but getting quick interpretation of what such data means and then using the insight to improve customer experiences, develop new products, improve efficiency and target your customers more effectively.