January 13, 2014

How to Start Using Big Data Today

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Tags: Big Data

The increasing accessibility of big data analytics makes it possible for businesses to benefit from information that was previously unusable. Large data sets can provide valuable insight ranging from customer behavior to workplace productivity or manufacturing processes. Although the benefits are undeniable, it can be difficult and intimidating to implement effective big data solutions. According to a survey by HP, less than 50 % of senior business executives indicated that they are using all data sources for analysis or action. However, there is too much potential to ignore it. If your company isn’t investigating big data solutions, it’s time to start. Here are several tips for beginning big data initiatives.

Assess Your Current Data
Tim Herbert, the vice president of research for CompTIA, refers to this as a “data audit.” He explains that a “data audit” entails describing, mapping and documenting the company’s existing data. In order to effectively use existing and future data, it is essential to have an overview of the information you possess. A data audit should involve assessing the type of data, its frequency, how it’s stored, and its connection to other data streams. It will provide direction and in some cases, an eye-opening look into the data that’s available.

Start Small
An overload of information can bog down beginning data initiatives. Rick Sherman, founder of Athena IT solutions addresses this by saying, “big data analytics is only as good as the data being analyzed and the analytical skills of those using the tools.” The take away? Big data initiatives can easily become a waste of money if they aren’t focused properly or your organization isn’t prepared.  Instead of immediately processing enormous amounts of data, it is advisable to start small. Why waste hardware and finances because your data streams are irrelevant and your team is inexperienced? Starting small allows your business to make careful decisions. Try assessing only a month’s worth of information for a specific product or metric.

Focus on Incremental Refinement
Along with starting small, it’s important to not expect enormous changes immediately. Although many companies report massive increases in sales numbers from big data strategies, don’t think your profits have to triple right away for your efforts to be a success. For companies using analytics internally, the effects might not be immediately evident. Small productivity enhancements might generate valuable savings over a long period of time.

Hire a Data Team
Big data requires new thinking, and consequently, new employees. Although the size and scope of the data team is scalable to your needs, organizations are finding they need at least one full-time data expert. Additionally, a diverse set of skills is important for successful data teams. An article published by InformationWeek advises against only hiring computer technicians. It’s important to mix data technicians with people that are creative and dedicated to the organization’s business objectives.

Big data is only getting bigger. The ‘IoE,’ or Internet of Everything, is quickly turning everyday processes and events into quantifiable, measurable information. For businesses, this means detailed analysis at every level.  Don’t miss out on potential revenue or increased productivity. If you want additional information about big data, check out more from our blog.