Big data is buzzing again. Gartner has identified the top 10 technology trends that will influence most organisations in 2013 and strategic big data is among the top picks. Although for many it is still a vague concept and an overhyped term, there is no doubt that the trend is gathering steam and the impact it is having on customer-centric and forward-thinking businesses is ever growing. To distinguish hype from reality, let’s demystify the term first which is not yet fully understood.
We have explained before that big data is best described by the three V’s of volume, velocity and variety. It’s too massive, generated at lightning speed and disparate to fit into conventional technology tools. This data is unstructured and estimated to account for at least 80% of the world’s data, which means that key strategic decisions are based on only 20% of data. In practical terms, big data is about finding out what’s beyond the data you have never used, solving problems that could not be solved before and getting the full picture of your customers. The challenge is to extract huge insights from big data using the right technology stack.
Opportunities to leverage big data technology and analytics exist across industries. Regardless of whether you’re planning to embark on a big data journey or not, the fact is your business is sitting on a big data goldmine. Аccording to Australia’s first ever State of Information Survey, the typical Australian small and mid-sized business has 563 terabytes of data across all devices. As mammoth as it may sound, it’s actually nothing compared to a whopping 100,000 terabytes the typical enterprise has. Definitely a lot to tap into provided the data is backed up. This incredible growth in unstructured data calls for new storage capabilities, with cloud storage leading the way and for a good reason.
Inexpensive storage and the cloud are big enablers of big data. Storage has become cheap enough to let companies make the most of big data. Processing costs continue to drop too. According to IDC, the cloud providers will play a key enabling role in nearly every facet of the big data space. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that in the private sector, a retailer using big data to the full has the potential to increase its operating margin by more than 60%. This is even more important in sectors where margins are pretty tight.
Gartner says it’s becoming more economical, thanks in part to low cost servers and CPUs, for organisations to tackle big data projects. By strategic big data, Gartner believes that users will be moving beyond isolated projects and in the long term, big data should be incorporated into an overall information strategy.
Forrester Research says big data refers to “techniques and technologies that make capturing value from data at an extreme scale economical.” Using the cloud, you can set out on a big data journey incrementally, without having to invest in infrastructure from day one. The best way to begin is to talk to IT vendors about your requirements and business problems because every big data project requires different approach.
Big data is a reality. It’s a new way to compete and win, many have already made great strides in the game-changing direction. Amazon, for example, uses big data to power its ’you may also like’ recommendation engine which is estimated to generate 30% of its sales. Facebook cashes in on your data mining personal preferences to create profiles that show advertisers which products you’re most interested in.
Big data, however, does not end with giants such as Facebook or Amazon. The great thing about it is that it gives power to small businesses as it does to the big ones and this is where the magic happens. The question is: “Has your data reached a tipping point?“♦ End