With such hype about BigData, one generally wonders what BigData is all about. If you are new to the concept do allow me to explain, BigData is the huge amount of unused data which if utilized in an effective manner, could help companies make better decisions. To a business that is planning on gaining the BigData Analytics advantage, the following definition might make more sense.
Beyond transactional data which is used for decision making, excessive amounts of unstructured data is lying unused in form of financial transactions, different types of sensors and meters, social media networks, emails, weblogs and numerous other sources. If utilized in a constructive manner and collated with transactional data, organizations could get a 360˚view of their customer. This could greatly impact the organization’s ROI and productivity. As this unstructured data keeps on increasing exponentially in terms of its volume and variety which makes it increasingly difficult to capture, manage and process it through conventional means. This phenomenon is known as “BigData”. The challenge for most key players nowadays is to effectively mine that data for useful information that can improve their decision making process.
Considering the explosive growth of BigData over the past few years and you will not be astonished to find that data-driven decision making is one of the most promising applications in the evolving discipline of Data Sciences. Nowadays you will find that many organizations are using BigData in order to gain additional benefits of extracting value from data that would have previously been considered ‘dead’ to a certain extent.
“data that exceeds the processing capacity of conventional database systems. The data is too big, moves too fast, or doesn’t fit the structures of your database architectures. To gain value from this data, you must choose an alternative way to process it.” (Source: Planning for BigData, O’Reilly Radar Team)
Let me take you through the basic process that is followed to extract data though how the exact extraction works depends on which technology is being used and what you are specifically trying to achieve through the use of BigData.
Every BigData Analytics process starts with acquisition and structuring of less-structured data. Once the data is organized in a better fashion, it is analyzed to discover certain repetitive patterns which can help the business to make better decisions. Then predictions are made based on these patterns and business decisions and plans are made based on this information. Thus, the frontend people in the business can utilize this information to make faster and better decisions resulting in better productivity.
You would ask, what does this mean for the business and for the consumer. As the major challenges faced by organizations today are organizational complexities, rapidly changing customer behaviors, and increased competitive pressures. New technologies as well as rapidly proliferating channels and platforms have created an immensely complex environment. BigData opens up gates to an unprecedented range of possibilities and insights into customer needs and behaviors, thus, leveraging businesses against their competitors and peers.
Where some companies have already adapted to the BigData advantage, few are still in the planning phase. Those that use BigData analytics effectively show noticeable increase in productivity rates and profitability.
Companies cannot afford to ignore critical customer data in an increasingly complex B2B buying process. B2B companies need to invest in websites that communicate the value of their products more effectively, and digital media and social media to ensure that potential customers are finding them. Marketing and sales people need to better understand their customers need so they can create products that are relevant to them.
This is where BigData comes into the picture helping you bridge this gap by unifying your existing information bank with more information from diverse sources like weblogs, emails, and other unstructured data which was not being utilized for decision making but had the potential to affect your decisions largely.
For example, BigData can help you collate different types of structured and unstructured data to create a 360 degree view of customer and prospects, say structured data from CRM, marketing automation, unstructured data from social media and semi-structured data from email. Thus enabling you with great information to uncover emerging risks and discover new upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
If you think your company is ready to avail the BigData advantage, you could start by benchmarking your industry and determining your company’s current position in analytics compared with that of your competitors. Data Scientists across the company can then help you understand how BigData can help you leverage above your competition. Once you adapt BigData, it will then provide you with the radical change that is often required for building and sustaining competitive advantage.