Digital Trends: Big Data

by Allana Grant

6 months ago

Digital trends: big data

The world we live in today is increasingly driven by the creation of, and consumption of data; that said, recent years have seen a digital trend known as big data gain significant momentum. Simply put, big data is the term which we use to refer to the vast quantities of information, structured and unstructured, from digital as well as traditional sources, that flows through a business daily. All this information, if managed correctly, represents a unique opportunity for businesses to improve their future marketing strategies; more often than not, giving them an edge over their competitors.

Big data explained

Although the term big data may be relatively new to us; the concept, in its earliest incarnation, can be traced back to the mid-nineties when it was used to refer to increased volumes of data.

At the start of the new millennium, industry analyst Doug Laney redefined the term to include such factors as increases in the variety of data being generated and the velocity at which it is being created and updated. Volume, velocity and variety, or the three V’s as they became widely known, form the basis of what we now recognise to be the mainstream definition of big data.

Understanding the three V’s

  • Volume: This is the word we most commonly associate with big data because the quantities of information we are talking about are so vast and they are growing exponentially all the time. Businesses gather data from various sources every day; from business transactions to social media to information from sensor or machine-to-machine data.
  • Velocity: This refers to how quickly data streams in to a business. Think about it? Huge quantities of information, from all manner of sources, coming in to a business at breakneck speed! It all has to be managed properly within a timely manner; by which we mean gathering it, processing it and storing it in such a way that it is easily accessible at a later date.
  • Variety: This refers to the many formats data can take. From structured, numeric data in traditional databases to unstructured text documents, email, video, audio, books, presentations, financial transactions, photos and tweets. These types are all very different from each other and must be handled accordingly.

The importance of big data analytics.

So now we have a better understanding of the makeup of big data, let us turn our attention to the process of analysing it and why it is so vitally important for today’s business owners!

By using analytics tools, businesses can make their vast quantities of data work for them. They are able to glean valuable insights from the data which gives them the wherewithal to make smarter decisions and better focus their future marketing strategies.

Big data analysis, for example, improves the overall efficiency of how a business operates. First and foremost, technologies such as Hadoop and cloud-based analytics can be significantly more cost-effective methods of storing large amounts of data than traditional ones. They also help owners identify more efficient ways of doing business; as well as highlighting problems which need solving.

The speed, at which these tools work, also means that analysing big data has become much quicker than traditional methods of gathering intelligence. It is now possible for businesses to analyse information in real time and react to it accordingly; making decisions based on everything they have learned.

From a marketing point of view, employing big data analysis can ultimately lead to increased profit margins and customer satisfaction levels. The ability to identify behaviour patterns, for example, helps businesses build a fuller picture of their customers’ needs, preferences and expectations of them. Having such information at hand allows for more targeted marketing campaigns, and in some cases, for products or services to be tailored to give customers exactly what they want.

It is easy to see why the use of big data analytics tools has become so prolific in recent years, and it is one trend that is set to continue; with experts predicting that global revenues will breach the $203 billion mark by 2020.