Big Data and Business Intelligence: An Overview

By Nathan Segal

According to Wikipedia, "Big data is an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using traditional data processing applications."


Also according to Wikipedia, “Business intelligence is where you use techniques and tools to transform raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes.”


Big data is collected by governments and major corporations around the world for a wide variety of purposes but not all of that data is useful. According to the article “Big Data, An Overview,” approximately 33% of the data might be valuable if analyzed.


Business Intelligence Issues

On a chart in the article, Big Data, An Overview, there are 15 issues regarding the data. Some of these are: Insufficient data quality (38%), no generally accepted BI strategy in place (33%), no adequate processes and responsibilities for BI available, and more.

Despite these issues, some of the benefits of big data are: More in-depth and precise business understanding (28%), optimized segmenting of customers (26%), recognition of sales and market opportunities (25%), and more. 


Processing and Storing Big Data

One important concern about data is how it’s processed and stored. Systems for storing data years ago were sufficient for the time but software and technologies evolve and as they do, the ability to use the past data becomes difficult. To be able to use it, the data has to be updated to the newer systems. If not, the data can die.


A major problem with big data is how to sort it and for that, sophisticated software and a structured, disciplined approach are necessary. Without that, you could have a nightmarish experience on your hands. One option for learning how to store data is “The Agile Archive,” a report which you can download.


The Data Scientist

Due to the complexity of data, a new role has been created, that of the data scientist.


The data scientist is one who can look at data and spot trends. He/she looks at data from multiple sources, with the goal of developing insights which may have been previously hidden. Another aspect is looking at the data from many angles to find out what the data means and then showing the employer ways of utilizing the data.


As stated earlier, learning how to access, sort, and use data can be quite challenging. This is why Teradata offers “a Web-based certification training program for students seeking a career in data-focused professions.” There are other options for training, such as the Certificate in Management of Enterprise Data Analytics (Big Data) at the University of Toronto.


Software Programs

There are different software programs available for accessing and sorting big data. One common example is the use of analytics to measure the performance of a website. Beyond analytics, there are a number of programs available to make use of big data, as covered in the story: 13 Big Data Vendors To Watch In 2013. More options are available in the article, 5 Big Data Apps with Effective Use Cases.


For Marketers

If you are involved in marketing, big data can make your life easier, especially when building a profile of your ideal customer sometimes referred to as an “avatar.”


Information about your potential customer can be quickly found with a few targeted searches. Within a short period of time, you will have all the information you need.


This information makes it much easier to target your advertising. Not only that but you’ll be familiar with some of the topics which are important to your potential customer and you will be able to speak to them in their language.


In the article Big Data, Bigger Marketing, there are three steps which marketers are urged to follow: Use data for deeper insight to drive growth, give data insights to those who can use it, and start by focusing on a few key objectives.


On the Forbes website, Fatemeh Khatibloo and Brian Hopkins have written a report for CIO's and marketers that will help their marketing and technology clients work together. It's not cheap, though. Be prepared to fork over $499 for the information.


Privacy Issues

Privacy is a huge potential problem for many people. It’s important to know who has your data and who “owns” it.


It’s important that businesses inform their customers about the data collected, how it will be used and whether that data will be shared with a third party. It’s also important that companies take steps to ensure the privacy of their customers, but as you will see in the next article, that’s often not the case and their personal information is often revealed to third parties, which can create havoc for the consumer and for the companies that gather the data.


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