I know I have data, but is it big data?
Companies often find themselves wondering whether or not they have big data and questioning whether they even need business intelligence and predictive analytics to improve their business strategy. The reality is that you probably have more data than you think you do, but that the systems are not in place to make it useful. It could also be that you know fully how powerful your data assets could be, but find the task of cataloging, categorizing and processing all of that data too daunting.
What does Big Data mean these days, anyway?
Yes, it’s true that Big Data is often just that – big. These days it’s impossible to think of an action or process that isn’t being recorded by a program or sensor and transformed into digital data. The resulting data sets are huge, ever-growing and often quite messy. IT research giant Gartner defines big data as “…high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.” Or as Wikipedia describes it, “Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with them.”
The moniker itself has come to refer less to the size of the data itself than to the use of predictive analytics or other methods of analysis and extraction which give the data their sought after big value.
Data in 2017 can come from anywhere, and the data aren’t always easy to categorize, much less analyze. Data is pouring into your company from Instagram photos, customer service tweets, phone calls with clients and elsewhere. As the means of collection continue to expand, data becomes increasingly unstructured and the adoption of advanced modeling and analytical capability is paramount to business success. New technologies are advancing rapidly to deal with more indeterminate forms of data, with trends such as artificial intelligence and machine learning already in the mainstream. Staying abreast of these new developments can help you solidify your competitive edge.
What this means for your organization
At this point you might be thinking: “Is my business really this complex? Are there really actionable insights hidden in this data that I am not seeing?” You aren’t sure whether or not you need these advanced processes to draw value from your data. And to be fair, it really could be that over-the-counter solutions like Excel and Access are giving you all of the insights you need.
As we have noted in previous blogs, big data to one organization may not be big data to another. However, if you feel that you need your data to do more, then you probably suffer from technology or skill set deficiencies that prevent you from unleashing the power of your data assets.
That is not to say that you should just run out and start comparison shopping solution vendors. First, carefully consider the business problem(s) you face. Perhaps start by asking: what are the top three questions that, if I could answer them, would provide me with the biggest impact? Then assess what the best technologies are to answer those questions and make sure that you have the people resources available to use them.
Do you feel like you aren’t getting enough value out of your data assets? Drop us a line and let us know where you need help.