What is Big Data?
Big Data refers to a significantly large cluster of data sets that are so extensive in magnitude that managing them is a task in itself even with database management tools and applications. Some of the difficulties include storage, caption, curation, analysis, sharing and especially visualization. The reason for their popularity lies in the extreme relevancy and diversity of the information it offers to interested parties compared to smaller sets of data. This allows big companies to pinpoint business trends, gaps in the market, prevent anomalies, mitigate risks, increase customer satisfaction levels and basically improve their brand for the masses.
Where does it come from?
This massive amount of data comes from a number of online sources such as social media, machine data and purchasing data. The first one has been especially significant in allowing companies unique insights into what their target consumers are looking for in their brand. Merging their interests with CRM data allows companies to conduct a thorough analysis on their likes and dislikes.
Consider Twitter and Facebook for instance. With over 230 million tweets posted on the former and 2.7 billion ‘likes’ and comments added to the latter each day, it’s not impossible to guess why corporations are scrambling to create their own social media presence.
How does it benefit companies?
In this technology driven era, the collection and maintenance of Big Data has become the norm. Not only are they now capable of taking complete advantage of the reams of data that is at their disposal, but they have allowed a large number of businesses to streamline processes and increase their profit margins. For example, using big data analytics, they are able to:
- Realize new ways to market to target consumers and attract new markets.
- Analyze customer data for unique insights into the minds and interests of the buyer and how to ensure they remain loyal to their brand.
- Identify loyal customers in order to take inspiration for future sales and create appropriate offers.
- Send custom offers to mobile devices at the ideal time to increase customer retention.
Big Data is Everywhere!
As mentioned before, social media websites are perhaps the largest and most diverse big data collectors anywhere. This is understandable if we take into account the 800 million users Facebook alone possesses. That is roughly 10% of the total population of the world! The team at Facebook was able to put together their ‘six degrees of separation’ concept which concluded that only 4 degrees or clicks separate one user from another. Such data is invaluable in growing and developing businesses that were impossible to create before.
Twitter is perhaps the flagship enterprise for this phenomenon. As mentioned before, the social media website processes over 230 million tweets per day. This makes Twitter the larger processor of online messages in the world. Businesses can use such data to track and process literally petabytes of information which can be used to create popular market trends.
Applications of Big Data
Before, scientific research required hours sitting in the library going through a large number of books or running after researchers for their data. Now that same data can be easily accessed online or through existing databases such as the extensive one the NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) has to offer. In other words, where once scientists dreamt of theories and then searched for relevant data to collaborate it now they can pinpoint possible trends and connections analyzing the big data available in research labs. Not only will this allow them to save time and resources, it can aid them in taking their scientific field to the next level.
The World Wide Web is perhaps the single most extensive data base that has ever been created in human history. Over 2 billion users log on to the internet on a daily basis and leave behind massive amounts of data that is just waiting to be analyzed. A business’s survival nowadays is largely dependent on how they handle their analytics. Every company with a web presence now knows that it’s wiser to embed appropriate tools in its code to measure how visitors utilize each part of their website. Take infographics for instance; this medium is considered to be a new marketing gimmick since it is able to convey large amounts of data graphically and make an instant impression on intended viewers.
Any sports lover will tell you that statistics have a lot to do with how a game’s performance is predicted by sports fans. Take baseball for instance. Since 1977, Bill James, has been collecting statistics of the sport and was the one who coined the term ‘sabermetrics’ to highlight the importance of objective data. Such data is very relevant in figuring out game plans and reduce losses in a game that has been deemed America’s favorite past time.
For businesses of all types and sizes, the appropriate data can mean the difference between a massive profit and a loss that can possibly bankrupt them. As mentioned before, surveying this data can provide unique insights into the market place along with emerging data. It is also quite valuable in answering questions that baffled them before and offers accurate predictions, conclusions and innovations. Startups benefit a lot from this; access to big data regarding their target consumers can help them boost their brand’s popularity quickly and efficiently.
The exponential growth in popularity of online retail has resulted in a significant increase in the availability of shopper data. This allows retailers to use information to provide a better shopping experience to consumers and also improve merchandising displays on brand websites. Companies such as Boots, Marks and Spencer and John Lewis have experienced a spike in their customer retention rates and transactions because of their decision to research their own data. For instance some retailers are using this data to counter ‘showrooming’ in which a customer checks out an item in a physical store but purchases it online. Most consumers do this in order to compare price tags with other stores. Many retailers have countered this behavior by offering shopping apps and mobile websites of their stores so that their customers don’t turn elsewhere.
The future for Big Data
According to the latest research by IDC, Big Data grew to 2.7 zettabytes in 2012. This was a significant increase from 2011 (almost 48%). It has become quite challenging for businesses to analyze such massive amounts of information; separating information they can actually use from useless data is their prime concern. That is where predictive analytics comes into play. It requires the ability to identify common trends in iterative customer behavior, visualization exercises and modeling practices. This gap has opened doors for data gurus or analytical experts with the skills to convert data into information.