Ninety percent of the data in the world today has been created only in the last two years, according to IBM. With the increase of mobile devices, social media networks, and the sharing of digital photos and videos, we are continuing to grow the world’s data at an astounding pace. Data is big…and getting bigger.
Big Data is a big thing. It is not a passing fad. It has become an all-encompassing, somewhat sprawling term that has defied conventional definition. Seemingly, it has as many definitions as it does applications. In fact, it is most accurately described by its dimensions – the so-called “5Vs” - Volume, Velocity, Variety, Veracity and Value. Solutions for harnessing and leveraging Big Data have also been elusive. What is clear, however, is that technology alone is not the answer.
Data has always been used to develop high-level metrics and business intelligence. Smart organizations have long relied on data to help make strategic business decisions. But the power and allure of Big Data is how it enables organizations to leverage unconventional data points: the information that was previously ignored because there was no reasonable way to process it.
The key question is, “How do we extract big knowledge from big data?”
Unprecedented access to information (according to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003) and emerging technology (allowing us to harness different types of data – both structured and unstructured) have resulted in the rise of big data analytics, which hold the promise of helping companies make more informed business decisions by enabling data scientists, predictive modelers and other analytics professionals to analyze large volumes of transaction data, as well as other forms of data that may be untapped by conventional business intelligence (BI) programs. This could include photos, sensor data, video or voice recordings, web server logs, Internet clickstream data, social media content and social network activity reports.
The technical challenge of using big data to drive innovation and business growth is only part of the solution. A pervasive culture of change management needs to be in place to reap the full benefits of the effort.