Big data is a hot topic in the tech world today. As experts tout its value in the market, there’s one thing that seems to be missing: a basic explanation of what big data is and how it can impact your business.
Your Introduction to Big Data
At its core, big data provides meaningful information from a sea of data. Some of that data comes internally from your company, and some of that data comes from external sources. The key to understanding big data and its potential lies in understanding those data sources and how they relate to one another.
With big data, it’s important to focus on patterns. What you know about your company should be matched to data sources outside of your company to provide you with answers that you don’t have. Focus your efforts on discovering the “next big idea” for your company.
Just remember – with big data you can look at data and say what will happen, but you won’t know why.
You might wonder just how the reality of big data applies to your business. Here at 5Wyre, we work on optimizing organizations. Some examples of an application for big data could be in response to the following questions:
“I wonder if I should offer this product or service?”
“I wonder if I need to offer this kind of discount to increase sales?”
With the right internal and external data, big data can provide you with answers to these questions.
The First Steps
Now that you have a basic introduction to the “what” of big data, we’ll go through the three (3) steps in the process of big data. This should help you understand how big data can deliver the insights mentioned above, and how you can best maximize it.
- Assessment/Inventory – First things first, acknowledge the data you have and what you know, but also what you don’t know (what you need). It’s important in this first step to understand where to find the right external data source. Pick the wrong external data source, and the quality of the results will suffer. It’s important at this step to also determine your goals from the data. Ask yourself, “What types of things am I going after?” Asking this question at this point can help you to determine if you’re going after the right thing – you could absolutely come up with an answer you didn’t expect!
- Pattern Match – Once you have examined the external data and your internal data, it’s time to look for a pattern between the two sources. New technology can examine both data sources and look for patterns inherent in the data. In bringing together those data sources to look for any correlation, you may discover a question that hasn’t been answered before (but should be!) or you may discover that you’ve answered some questions incorrectly.
- Look at What Comes out of the Correlation – Now that you have the patterns/correlations between the data sources, go back to your original goal and what you wanted to learn. Does it answer your original question, or does it ask something else? At this point in the process, it’s important that you understand the answer that comes at this step – even if it doesn’t fit your original question. Understanding the answer here helps determine the next step (if applicable) in the process. You may end up repeating the process several times and coming up with unanticipated answers each time – this can be extremely valuable information! Line up any answers you get and examine them closely – you may be able to discern a logical answer to your question, or you may even see a different question that should be asked altogether.
- Rinse and Repeat (Maybe) – As I mentioned above, you may end up going through this process several times to find answers that help you reach your original goals. It’s important here to understand that the process of big data is dynamic. This understanding in following the process can help you be a more agile organization. If your answer doesn’t align to the question or you feel you need to change the question itself, go back and start the process again. But as I also mentioned above, keep your trail of breadcrumbs and track any and all answers you receive. Although they may not seem like logical conclusions to your questions by themselves, together they could present you with the information you need.
I hope that you understand the importance and impact of big data and its potential a bit better than at the start of this post. And if you have more questions about the impact of big data on your organization, just reach out to us – we can help you leverage your technology investment to drive results for your business.
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