Big Data refers to the massive volume of complex data that has become increasingly difficult to process with only traditional data processing applications and techniques. It has been a surprisingly popular buzz word in recent years, despite the fact that it’s an intangible concept to most.
When it comes to data, the amount isn’t the key – it’s all about what businesses do with it, and how they can garner insights that ultimately lead to stronger decisions and strategic moves. Big Data and analytics tools power consumer and business user experiences. Big Data has returned focus to business intelligence, or the process of converting data into information so decision makers or analysts can make more informed decisions, better and quicker.
Big Data revolves around the “V’s”: volume, velocity, and variety. (Industry Analyst Doug Laney) But what do these refer to? Let’s take a look:
Volume is the quantity of data a business is working with, which is collected from various sources like business transactions, social media, machine-to-machine data, etc. Storage of this data was previously a problem, but new technologies have addressed this.
Velocity refers to how quickly data flows between its sources to destinations, which are often consumers. Today, data is streaming at an unprecedented speed because it’s coming from so many different sources. Dealing with this speed in a timely manner is key.
Variety is the diversity of the data that’s ultimately presented. It comes in all formats, whether it’s structured, numeric data, or unstructured documents, emails, video or audio files, financial transactions,etc.
And we think there’s another important “V” to add to the mix: value. Value is the scale of impact delivered to the business, because after all, data for data’s sake practically has no purpose. The concept of Big Data is all about the potential impact data can have on a business.
A large driving force behind Big Data is the fact that it can be monetized – in fact, organizations that have actively embraced the use of big data are seeing 50% higher revenue rates than those who haven’t. (Dell GTAI 2015) Think of this example: an e-commerce website detects an increase in clicks from an experimental online advertisement, thanks to Big Data. This insight is easily understood by management and can be taken immediately to the bottom line. And here’s another example: Big Data applications for sales and marketing assist an organization in figuring out which consumers are most likely to buy or renew products or services, thanks to massive data crunching occurring in real time. 41% say that big data has resulted in better targeting and increased ROI from their marketing efforts. (Dell GTAI 2015) And the examples just continue: customer service programs make it easier to personalize service; human resources applications determine the best ways to attract and retain top talent.
The benefits here are clear, and this awareness of the value of data-driven insights is rapidly spreading to businesses in all verticals. There’s huge potential to create revenue gains through Big Data – and since it’s still in its infancy, those who get to it first will see huge competitive advantages.
Despite the buzz surrounding the topic, Big Data isn’t quite all the way there yet. 44% report that they still aren’t sure how to get the best from the massive amounts of information they have at their fingertips. (Dell GTAI 2015) However, those organizations that are integrating Big Data are using it to drive their strategies and operations, and this is increasingly occurring across businesses of all sizes and industries. 60% of CIOs cite Big Data analytics as a top driver for IT spending this year (Nomura Holdings CIO Survey), so the technology isn’t leaving any time soon.
Take a look at other big trends impacting the business world in our post: Cloud Predictions for 2016.