Making decisions is often one of the most challenging aspects of running a successful business. Sure, some conclusions come easy, but others require the decision maker to have a good and reliable source of knowledge and information at their disposal. This is why many businesses are turning to Business Intelligence (BI) to help the important decision making process. There’s a new sector of BI however that has recently become all the rage: Big Data.
You’ve likely seen or heard the term Big Data, but do you know what it is? Here is a simple definition, along with some examples and ways businesses can use it.
Define: Big Data
If you search for definitions of Big Data, you will likely come across something along the lines of: Big Data is data that focuses on harnessing and using new forms of unstructured data that move into or through a business with high volume, velocity and complexity.
But what exactly does this mean? Well, many find this definition vague, at best. We found a definition, an equation in fact, that better explains Big Data:
Big Data = Transactions + Interactions + Observations
This is highly structured data related to events. It always includes: Time, a numerical value and refers to an objective, or objectives. Examples of this include, invoices, travel plans, activity records, payments, etc. The vast majority of this information is stored in databases and can be accessed quickly and easily, usually through SQL (Structured Query Language).
This covers how people interact with one another, or with your business. This includes interactions such as Facebook posts and Likes, social feeds, generated content and even blogs. Basically, this encompasses any data you can collect through any type of interaction that this isn’t limited to business transactions. Many experts expect this part of Big Data to really take off and become more valuable as social networks become ever more integrated with our lives and the corporate world.
This is information gathered from the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is associated with unique, individual things that have a virtual component that can be observed, and are connected in an Internet-like structure. Some examples of this include GPS coordinates from a person that visits your website on their mobile phone, or RFID chips in ATM cards. This data can be stored and potentially used to make better, more informed decisions.
When you combine these three things together, along with the data associated with it, you get Big Data.
Some sources of Big Data
Here are just a few of sources of Big Data:
- SMS messages
- GPS coordinates associated with mobile interactions
- HD video, audio and images
- Product logs
- Affiliate networks
- Purchase details
- Facebook Likes and shares
Ways business can use Big Data
There are numerous ways small to medium sized businesses can employ Big Data:
- To provide better service – You can use Big Data to better tailor products for individual customers based on their buying habits, Facebook Likes and even personal preferences such as favorite colors.
- Identify key customers – It can be hard to identify who your key customers are, especially if your company has a large customer base. By using Big Data, you can better identify who your primary customers are and their demographics. This makes it easier to make customer oriented decisions and marketing strategies.
- Identify new business opportunities – If your company is harnessing Big Data, you will be better able to spot upcoming trends and better equipped to predict if these will prove popular.
- Identify potential problems – If you monitor social media feeds, incoming calls and forums, you should be able to pick up potential problems more quickly and easily. This gives you the chance to fix issues before they escalate and cause any damage to your business.
There are many uses of Big Data, and as the world continues to generate more and more data, it will become increasingly important to employ Big Data techniques in your business. If you are looking to learn more about this topic, or any other part of Business Intelligence, please contact us today.