Living in a global, ever-expanding economy means there are more people interacting than every before. Consider retail giant Wal-Mart, for example. The company conducts over a million transactions with customers every hour. That may sound like a feat in and of itself, but the company also keeps records associated with those transactions.
In the past, traditional analyst and data roles attempted to reduce available data to the most useful, manageable output. Server space, infrastructure, and software could only hold so much. Current information was mined for gems and everything else was archived. Today, systems are reaching for new heights. Walmart's databases are rumored to hold over 2.5 petabytes of data. If you printed out all the data in simple text on regular pieces of paper, you would need 50 million four-drawer filing cabinets to contain it.
Current and forthcoming systems are not only capable of storing massive quantities of data, they are also able to analyze the information. Instead of mining for data to answer questions, questions can now be asked of the complete construction. What does all this ability to store and process big data mean for the enterprise?
Better Decision Making
Big data and the ability to analyze at a deeper level allows business owners and leaders to make more informed decisions. For years, leaders made gut-level decisions in cases where timing was essential. Although experience is essential to success, decision-makers can now base choices on information as well as intuition. In fact, in the fast-paced and competitive markets of today, information-backed decision making is crucial. According to InsightSquared.com, poor data decisions may cost US companies over $3 trillion dollars annually.
Big Data Provides a Crystal Ball
Obviously no one can predict the future with 100 percent accuracy, but robust data warehouses and the skill sets to analyze them can help companies estimate trending with astonishing results. Details about customer demographics, shopping times, average handle times for call centers, frequently asked questions and literally millions of other pieces of information can be combined to create a map, allowing companies to make highly educated guesses about the next big thing.
Big Data Protects
The ability to contain, monitor and control massive amounts of information helps to prevent financial fraud, protects consumers, and helps maintain compliance across business branches. Large corporations can identify mistakes, fraud, and other activities at a higher rate than in the past, because those activities show up in the pool of big data.
Big Data is Great for Marketing
Gone are the days of one or two channel marketing. Today's companies maintain webs of advertising, brand management, and customer interaction. The internet alone provides tremendous data challenges for marketing departments, and within the next ten years, online data production will reach over 40 times the 2009 rate. Big data takes information about page hits, time spent online, Tweets, mentions, likes, shares, links and hundreds of other elements and combines it to create a picture for marketing and development departments.
Big data is simply the data of today's market. Although laying down the infrastructure to support the information can be time consuming and costly, it is essential that companies begin incorporating these processes. With global data growth outpacing IT spending by over 35 percent, many enterprises are already behind and data shows no signs of slowing soon.