January 23, 2015

What Your Business Needs to Know about Big Data

If you read much of anything business-related these days, it won’t be long before you stumble on something about big data. Big data isn’t a buzzword or a passing trend. It’s real, and it is important for the future landscape of business. However, big data isn’t always worth the investment. Here’s what you need to know to determine if big data investments are right for your company.

How Much Data Is Considered Big Data

Big data is more than just lots of data; it is a combination of massive data that is complex and difficult to process using traditional techniques. A few dozen terabytes of unstructured data or data that doesn’t fit well in a spreadsheet format can be considered big data. Also, petabytes of data, even if it is all structured and easily formatted, is considered big data. Unless you’re dealing with these levels of complexity and/or volume, big data storage and analysis isn’t a good fit for you.

How Big Data Is Useful

How much data you have isn’t the only consideration. You should also determine what use your business has for big data. Big data is used for things like making shop floors in manufacturing facilities more efficient, determining customer behaviors to better target sales, and predicting future trends. If your business can’t justify a RoI for these types of issues, big data won’t be useful to you. Most small businesses get more bang for their buck with more traditional investments, like hiring a better call center or improving website design.

How Companies Get Big Data

Big data comes from numerous sources, including computers (such as daily activity logs), customer information, website activities, in-store customer activities (when the proper sensors are in place), checkout registers, mobile apps, video cameras, and other human and computer-generated sources. Realize that in order to capture big data, the means for gathering it also have to be invested in.

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