You’ve probably heard something about Big Data, as it’s the latest buzzword that everyone is talking about—plenty of smoke, but haven’t seen too many Big Data fires. That’s not to say people aren’t trying to start one: the number of so-called experts willing to give their opinions seems to be growing everyday—everyone from IBM to the latest Silicon Valley startup is making sure we see the smoke. What does it all mean to you and your business?
There’s no doubt that to be competitive in today’s marketplace, companies are leveraging technology and they’re helping drive results to their bottom line. Big Data has as many definitions as it has experts, but to most people, it’s essentially the notion of additional data that is currently unaccounted for by your systems (typically of a large volume and often unstructured—but more on that some other time). This might mean that in addition to the customer information you already gather like purchasing history, click through rates on your PPC campaign, etc., you may want to add in a component of data that you don’t have like the weather feed or census data or some other external data. Why would you want to do that? The answer is obviously dependent on your scenario, but the goal is to gain some sort of new knowledge about how, why, or when people are buying from you and ultimately gain a competitive advantage.
There’s no doubt a future for Big Data, but so many times companies aren’t doing a good job with the “Little Data” they have, that you’re better off mastering that before making your move to the Big Leagues. Start your fire small and when the time is right, you’ll be able to start a big fire much easier when the time is right.