2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day around the globe. That’s a lot of zeros, and the largest amount of data we’ve ever seen. To put this into context, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt says “From the dawn of civilization until 2003, humankind generated five exabytes of data. Now we produce five exabytes every two days…and the pace is accelerating.”

Increased internet use, social media adoption, smart phones, sensor data, financial transactions, plus the digitalisation of books, videos and music are all factors of Big Data, and it’s growing at an astounding rate. This is great news for businesses as it gives unprecedented access to previously untapped real-time customer insights.

Big Data is, essentially, data sets of such magnitude that previous tools were unable to handle them. There are two types of Big Data – structured and unstructured. Structured data is comprised of already-stored data and accounts for around 10 – 15% of all Big Data. The remaining 85 – 90% is unstructured data, and is made up of ‘human information’ such as social media feeds, emails, website clicks, photos and videos. To enable capture and analysis of unstructured data, the criteria can be broken down into “The Four Vs”.

The Four Vs of Big Data

  • Volume – the number of bytes of data generated per second. Beneficial for conversion of data into sentiment analysis and prediction of annual purchase trends.
  • Velocity – the speed at which data is consumed. Real-time pattern analysis can expose potential transaction fraud.
  • Variety – the complexity of new and increasing numbers of data streams (social media feeds, photos, sensor data, videos and so on). Analysing multiple streams together can bring fresh insights.
  • Veracity – the quality of the data, which is imperative for gaining accurate insights and fuel new strategies.

Should you care about Big Data? Absolutely. The population of the internet is growing every day, and with it so is data. Traditional data warehousing will soon be part of technology’s history and you will need to look at a new operational business intelligence solution for your company. By harnessing Big Data you will be enabling your company to capture, analyse and find ways to monetise the output.

Some key questions to ask yourself when considering your move toward a new business intelligence and performance management solution are:

  • What are our key objectives for utilising Big Data?
  • How do we plan to collect this data?
  • Which data streams provide the highest quality insights into our business/customers?
  • How will we analyse the data in the fastest, most effective way?
  • What is the most effective way to translate the data for our brand?
  • How can we use the data to improve brand loyalty and customer relationships?

Big Data is here to stay and organisations of all sizes in all industries will benefit from taking this critical step in understanding and predicting consumer behaviour. Data analysis helps to identify patterns, and from the insights gained a higher value service can be delivered. Ultimately, Big Data will enable a tailored customer experience that is welcomed and will in turn deliver real value back to the company.