04 Jul 2012

What is Big Data?

Do you have plans to use ‘big data’ in your business? Tell us below. According to a recent survey conducted for SAP, SMEs are realising the benefits of ‘big data’ faster than their larger competitors. Published last month, the Harris Interactive survey of 154 international companies found that 76 per cent of businesses viewed big data as an opportunity. Asked about potential benefits, respondents said:
  •  more efficient business operations (59 per cent);
  • boosting sales (54 per cent);
  • lowering IT costs (50 per cent);
  • becoming more agile (48 per cent); and
  • attracting and retaining customers (46 per cent).
What businesses couldn’t agree on, however, was precisely what big data is:
  • 28 per cent described it as the massive growth in transaction data;
  • 24 per cent described it as new technologies that address volume;
  • 19 per cent described it as the requirement to store and archive data for regulatory compliance; and
  • 18 per cent saw big data as the rise in new data sources, such as social media.
So what is big data? At the moment, there is no exact definition. For the most part big data is harnessing new or large sets of data to improve the effectiveness of any business process – whether that’s to gain market insight, make predictions, or create more efficient processes. In the words of SAP’s Steve Lucas, “Big data is the unprecedented growth and convergence of social, device, equipment and corporate data.” How can you use it? As IBM says: “Big data is more than simply a matter of size; it is an opportunity to find insights in new and emerging types of data and content, to make your business more agile, and to answer questions that were previously considered beyond your reach.” Exactly how your business can benefit depends on what data you have at your disposal, and how cleverly you can exploit it. It could be something as simple as analysing your website visits to better understand what day and time gets the most impact for tweets or sales announcements. Do you have plans for ‘big data’ within your business? Tell us below.