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Drowning in Big Data

From tweets, to contracts, businesses struggle to make sense of the vast quantities of data they receive daily. Big data refers to data sets that are so immense that it would take ordinary software tools and processes too long to gather, manipulate, and analyze the data set. As businesses use sensors, cameras, the Internet, mobile devices, and social media to gather ever more data, they need strategies for capitalizing on the data.

Big Data is the result of the increasing volume, velocity, and variety of data received, according to Doug Laney, now at Gartner Inc.1 IBM's web site notes that we create a staggering 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily.2 Big data consists of both structured data housed in databases and unstructured data, such as, atmospheric data, drug test data, service desk reports, tweets, blogs, and images.

Making Sense of Big Data

Gathering and analyzing big data can give companies a competitive advantage and help them ensure that they comply with regulations. However, companies need the right resources to gather, cleanse, store, and analyze their data. Companies need:

  • Data cleansing processes and technology to remove incomplete, incorrect, or duplicate data. Garbage in still means garbage out.
  • Software and hardware tools to manage data storage and analysis.
  • Trained employees who:
    • Analyze the data.
    • Grasp how others could use the data.
    • Communicate results using data visualization and other tools.

Using Big Data To Increase Profitability

Effective data management is closely linked with profitability, according to a June, 2011, study by the Economist Intelligence Unit3. Ultimately, the best managers combine data with judgment.4 They ascertain that data is current, relevant, and reliable. They ask, "What does it mean, and what should we do about it?"

1. Click here for Doug Laney blog.
2. 1 quintillion = 1x 1018 bytes or 1 exabyte.
3. Click here for Economist Intelligence Unit study.
4. Shah, Horne and Capella. 2012. Harvard Business Review, Good Data Won't Guarantee Good Decisions.

Copyright 5/12 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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