Choice, Capabilities, Collaboration, Competitiveness: Big Data Has Value at Many Levels

Big Data means many things to many people – it all depends on their place and perspective in the organization. But there is something for everyone.

I recently explored the advantages being seen across the enterprise in a recent special report in Database Trends & Applications, and have distilled the key points below:

For data managers, it’s all about choice. The rise of the Big Data environment has brought with it a new generation of solutions, including open source, NoSQL and NewSQL databases – not to mention Apache Hadoop and cloud-based data environments. Big Data is extremely accessible now because of low-cost solutions to capturing and analyzing unstructured forms of data that haven’t been available until recently. Consider all the sensor data – from RFID tags, from machines – that’s been floating around for the past decade. Previously, capturing and managing such data was never cheap.  Now with more more inexpensive databases and tools such as Hadoop, such data is now within the realm of the smallest organizations. In addition, cloud provides almost unlimited capacity, and can support and provide big data analytics in a way that is prohibitive for most organizations.

For data scientists, analysts and quants in organizations, it’s all about capabilities. The new Big Data world is all about diving deep into datasets and being able to engage in storytelling as a way to make data come alive for the business. Open source plays a key role, through frameworks such as Hadoop and MapReduce. There is also the highly versatile R language, which is well-suited for building analytics against large and highly diverse data sets. Predictive analytics is also is another key capability made real by Big Data.

For business users across the enterprise, it’s all about collaboration. There has been a growing movement to open up analytics across the organization – pushing Big Data analysis down to all levels of decision-makers, from front-line customer service representatives to information workers. New capabilities such as cloud services, visualization and self-service enable end users without statistical training to build their own queries and draw at their own conclusions. Along with user-friendly interfaces to Big Data, there’s been a rise in pervasive BI and analytics running in the background, embedded within applications or devices, in which the end-user is oblivious to the software and data sources feeding the applications. Cloud opens up business intelligence and analytics to more users. In addition, more organizations are focusing on providing Big Data analytics through apps on mobile devices, accelerating the move toward simplified access.

For the members of the executive suite, it’s all about competitiveness. Most executives grasp the power that big data can bring to their operations, especially with performance analytics, predictive analytics and customer analytics. Employing these analytics against Big Data means better understanding customers and markets, as well as becoming aware of trends that are still bubbling beneath the surface.

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