Kartic's Musings on Corporate Information and Knowledge Management

July 10, 2015

De-mystifying Big Data

Filed under: SharePoint — kartickapur @ 2:24 pm

I have heard the term ‘big data’ mentioned at least 5 million times in last couple of years and to be really honest, at times, I have struggled to define this concept perfectly. This article is an attempt to de-mystify it a bit for those who are lost in the sea of data about big data!

So here goes:

What is big data about? Well it is quite simple really. Its about these 3 things:

  • Its about Large volumes of data – when I say large volumes, it means things that traditional data processing solutions can’t handle)
  • Its about diversity of data – data gathered from social media, sensors, other devices, web applications, consumer behaviour etc.
  • Its about data streaming – data delivered at different speeds and frequencies.

Why, then you would ask, should we embrace big data for your company? Instead of me trying to come up with a sales pitch, let me reference some information from Bain and Company study. Better still, let me share a cool diagram:

big data 1

(here is the reference: From Bain & Company report (2014), ‘Big Data” The organizational challenge’, Microsoft Enterprise website http://www.microsoft.com/enterprise/it-trends/big-data/articles/big-data-the-organizational-challenge.aspx)

Then is it really different from BI? Yes and No. Here is my attempt at explaining why:

  • ‘Big Data analytics’ is a BI practice
  • Big data analytics explores granular details of business operations and customer interactions that seldom find their way into a data warehouse or standard report.
  • Types of implementations
    • Companies that manage big data in their Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) and execute most analytical processing there.
    • Companies that design their EDW for the well understood, auditable and ‘clean data’ that average business report demands and distribute their effort onto secondary analytic platforms.
    • Hybrid approach

Just to put things into perspective, if you are still not convinced about big data, let me share a case study (done by Microsoft with you). Here are my notes on that study:

From study conducted for manufacturing sector in US, here are some key facts –

  • $371 Billion potential net value of data dividend over 4 years if companies become data smart.
  • Recommendation to perform 4 actions to realize a 60% greater return on their data assets:
    • bring together even as few as 3-4 discrete data sources,
    • use modern analytics tools to glean insights from data,
    • surface those insights in a consumable fashion to the right decision makers across the company and
    • ensure that insights from data are shared in a timely manner.
  • Key Benefits (for manufacturing)
    • Employee Productivity – running highly automated manufacturing plants where robots, devises, sensors, software are connected increases productivity
    • Operational Improvement – Improving operational efficiencies and lowering costs using predictive analytics (condition based maintenance, better energy management, improved asset management)
    • Product Innovation – using data to drive business growth with smarter product planning and innovation
    • Customer Facing – Building better customer engagement models and uncovering new service offerings

And here is a pie chart to display these statistics (because I love pie charts):

big data 2

(here is the reference: From <http://blogs.technet.com/b/vertical_industries/archive/2014/05/22/the-371-billion-opportunity-for-data-smart-manufacturers.aspx>)

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