Data is more a part of our lives now than it has ever been. It's woven into every sector of the global economy and the harnessing of that data by businesses and individual alike is becoming the norm.
Big Data is what we get when the data sets collected become too large and complex to analyse using standard methods. This data comes from all sorts of sources, including web browsers, social media and consumer information. By sifting through all of this information business managers are able to make much more informed decisions and therefore move their company forward with confidence.
The Benefits of Big Data
Future ready - The internet of things is a hot topic in 2014. As products begin to broadcast data to one another to improve their efficiency. The amount of data available to manufacturers and suppliers is going to grow even greater as a result. Investing in an infrastructure that can handle and analyse Big Data now will put your business in an excellent position for the future, even if you're not concerned with the internet of things, Big Data is listed by Gartner as one of the technology trends you can't afford to ignore.
Customer Insights - Near the top of a good business's objectives is to react and respond to the needs and desires of its customers and clients. Big Data allows your business to make accurate predictions about the near-future needs of those who use your business regularly, and the business of your competitors. This can give you the edge that you need to both excel in your chosen field and compete with other businesses.
New Business Models - Some industries have seen Big Data create completely new business models. Algorithmic trading allows businesses to analyse tremendous amounts of market data every minute, providing them with information on where the real opportunities are. This kind of speed would have been unheard of a decade ago. Retail companies are using Big Data to change their purchasing behaviours, making purchases based on fact rather than speculation.
Better In-House Operations - Big Data may be the final link for companies looking to achieve maximum operational efficiency. By constantly assessing the efficiency of their workers and work processes, managers will be able to highlight the points where they're losing money. Insurance companies are already speculating how they can use Big Data analytics to speed the processing of claims and spot potentially fraudulent claims that need investigating.
Improved Sustainability - The Guardian recently reported that Big Data could see businesses able to take much greater steps towards becoming sustainable and nature friendly by using the same information that improves their in-house operations.
Harness Your Staff's Potential - Data analysis doesn't have to stop at your customers, businesses who turn their analysis inwards and review their own staff have reaped the benefits too. By analysing the work patterns and talents of their employees, managers can make sure that staff with niche skill-sets aren't going to waste and introduce multi-discipline roles to improve efficiency.
The challenges of Big Data
Security - Obviously if you're handling tremendous amounts of customer and client information then you need to be absolutely sure that that information is well protected from any hostile forces that might want to misuse this information. If you're going to invest in Big Data we advise you also invest in beefing up your security. Fortunately, Big Data security is set to be one of the big talking points of 2014, so there will be plenty of opportunities to make improvements across the board.
Accumulation - Data doesn't just turn up on your desk, you have to invest in accumulation systems to help you collate all the information that's out there and turn it into useful, business-driving data. These can be expensive, but they are an important part of any business's Big Data strategy.
Analysis - Big Data needs high performance analysis because there's just so much of it. Datamation wrote an article last year about the amount of data we create every minute, and the numbers are staggering. According to their data in June, the human race wrote over 204 million emails a minute, queries Google 2 million times, watched 48 hours worth of YouTube Videos and produce over 100,000 tweets every minute. That's a huge amount of information to process and eke useful data from, but it's almost certainly worth it.
Datamation also noted that over $272.000 was spent on e-commerce every minute. Like the other numbers it's likely to have gone up in 2014 to even more. People are spending more money online because it's often cheaper, more convenient, and more varied. It also means more data, and that data is becoming more and more accessible every year. For a business, passing on all that information is passing on a huge percentage of potential new customers for your business once you isolate their desires using Big Data.
It's Time for Big Data
Big Data analytics is looming over the business sector like never before. 2014 is the year where we'll see businesses really kick their analysis into gear. The target for many will be to become capable of real-time analysis of data as it's collected, and then react to that information accordingly. Any big company unable to do similar may find themselves falling behind, and any SME's getting into Big Data early could well see themselves rocketing to the front of the pack.