While the term “big data” is relatively new, the act of gathering and storing large amounts of information for analysis is old, Big data is being generated by everything around us at all times. Every digital process and social media exchange produces it. Systems, sensors and mobile devices transmit it.
Big Data has the potential to help companies improve operations and make faster and more intelligent decisions. This data, when captured, formatted, manipulated, stored, and analyzed can help a company to gain useful insight to:
- Identify and increase new revenues opportunities
- Uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preference and other useful business information
- Get or retain existing customers
- Improve operational efficiency
- Competitive advantages over rival organizations and other business benefits
Big data can be characterized by 4Vs: the extreme volume of data, the wide variety of types of data, the velocity at which the data must be must processed and the substantial value of the data.
Volume: Big data requires processing high volumes of low-density, unstructured data, lick streams on a web page and a mobile app, network traffic, sensor-enabled equipment capturing data at the speed of light, and many more. For some organizations, this might be tens of terabytes, for others it may be hundreds of petabytes.
Velocity: Data streams in at an unprecedented speed and must be dealt with in a timely manner.
Variety: New unstructured data types. Unstructured and semi-structured data types, such as text, audio, and video require additional processing to both derive meaning and the supporting metadata.
Value: There are a range of quantitative and investigative techniques to derive value from data—from discovering a consumer preference or sentiment, to making a relevant offer by location, or for identifying a piece of equipment that is about to fail.
An example of big data might be petabytes (1,024 terabytes) or exabytes (1,024 petabytes) of data consisting of billions to trillions of records of millions of people—all from different sources (e.g. Web, sales, customer contact center, social media, mobile data and so on). The data is typically loosely structured data that is often incomplete and inaccessible.
Last but not least, I believe that the power of Big Data is that it is information about people’s behavior instead of information about their beliefs. It’s about the behavior of customers, employees, and prospects for your new business. The importance of big data doesn’t revolve around how much data you have, but what you do with it.