Big Data Trends

The term ‘big data’ is settling comfortably into the lexicon of early twenty-first century life. Today, most people are aware that organisations of all types are collecting and analysing vast amounts of data.

The sheer scope of the data revolution is not so well known, even within organisations. Mainstream press coverage tends to focus on consumer-facing, market-led initiatives, but data’s transforming the way that companies do business along the value chain and there are huge opportunities to drive improved performance.  

How is data being used?

On the consumer side of the equation, data is being used as raw material for increasingly sophisticated advertising. Businesses can not only target ads and special offers at a granular level, but also predict future behaviour. Thus an airline might use customer behaviour information to target the next generation of frequent flyers.

Equally a high-tech manufacturing company might deploy data to optimise supply chain pricing and ordering or improve the efficiency of a production line (and prevent breakdowns). And after the sale has been made, information is fed back by ‘the internet of things’ to monitor the performance of a product or component and predict faults.

Thus, data (and data analysis) is enabling organisations to increase sales, improve customer experience, build better and safer products more cost effectively and consequently maximise revenues. As importantly, decision making that was underpinned by a combination of imperfect market research and gut instinct is becoming increasingly data driven.

Multiple data sources

The big data revolution has grown out of digital transformation. As organisations have moved more processes online, the information they collect has multiplied. Thus businesses are sitting on huge wells of information that is now being unlocked by new technologies that allow terabytes of information to be processed rapidly.

Data platforms such as Hadoop and Splunk not only facilitate the collection of digitised information but also allow it to be processed across multiple nodes. Quantities of data that would once have required a super-computer to sift and analyse can now be handled by boxes distributed across a network.    

Early days

It's impossible to overstate the ongoing importance of data as a driver for business growth and organisational efficiency. But equally it would be wrong to suggest that a majority of organisations are making the most of the growing stores of information at their disposal.

Indeed, the truth is that the big data revolution is at a relatively early stage in its development. According to a survey conducted by IDG, back in 2015, 80% of US enterprises were investing in big data technologies with the average spend coming in at $7m. That might seem like a lot of money, but it is the tip of an iceberg. Most organisations are at the stage of putting a toe in the water and working out how the data tools at their disposal can be deployed to produce the maximum benefit and return.

And for any organisation getting to grips with data for the first time, there are some real challenges that must be faced. 

Find out more about Big Data in our eGuide 'Big Data or Fast Data'.

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