Big Data - A new frontier

‘Big data’ is a buzzword which has been referenced more and more during recent years.  At the start of 2014, many tech and data professionals promised that this would be the year for the allure of big data to become the basis for online competition.

Over the last year, the big data market has seen rapid growth and change, with several new technologies emerging. These new tools haven’t gone unnoticed, and more businesses than ever are investigating how to leverage their customer’s digital breadcrumb trail for their own purposes.  So much so, that a study conducted by IDG showed that 70% of businesses are planning to implement big data related projects and programmes.

Big data is nothing new. Organisations have been handling and analysing large data sets for decades. The explosive growth of internet usage and technological advances has resulted in masses of data streams for every consumer in the world. Data feeds come from multiple locations, including: computers, phones, web logs, emails, social platforms and transactions.

However, gleaning any value from big data is typically time consuming and costly. Emerging technology is responsible for today’s hype surrounding big data, as this gives businesses the ability to analyse data trends in a more simplistic way. Internet users caused the amount of online data to surge, yet technology for handling/managing this has only just caught up.

What can big data do for you?

They say that knowledge is power, and this couldn’t ring more true for businesses who seek to find out more and more about their customers via big data analysis. Unlocking the knowledge within big data is where the real value lies, and analysis tools offer businesses the control to do this.

New data analysis tools allow businesses to appoint and train analysts to fulfill their data needs. This significantly drives down the costs of employing data scientists – which used to be the only option. More and more brands are taking advantage of the insight that is offered by big data and by doing so, remain ahead of their competition.

Data science is not voodoo. We are not building fancy math models for their own sake. We are trying to listen to what the customer is telling us through their behaviour.”

Kevin Geraghty

Most marketing efforts are retrospective, but the immediacy of big data allows brands to monitor consumer activity in ‘real time’ and grasp every online conversation or contextual data as it happens. By using big data for marketing purposes, brands can have more control over advertising, promotions and influencing consumer behaviour, particularly during pivotal events or seasons – in fact it was predicted that ‘real time’ big data analysis would be most widely utilised in 2014 during the Winter Olympics and the World Cup.   

By finding out how customers interact with your products and services online, you can see how closely your online offering meets their needs and expectations.  Just some of the benefits of harnessing big data:

  • Sales forecasts
  • Accurate and detailed information in one place
  • Performance information
  • Perform risk analysis
  • Real-time analysis
  • Customer segmentation
  • Improved decision making

Big data makes cities smarter

Other than brand competition, big data has provided some other surprising insights. New York Fire Department is using big data to help predict and prevent fires. Big data has allowed the fire department to determine which factors can make a fire more likely to occur - such as neighbourhood income and the age of a building. These factors are catalogued and sorted by a database, which pinpoints buildings most at risk. This then allows the fire department to inspect these buildings first, and therefore helps to reduce fire risk and improves the efficiency of their services. 

Big data, though not a new concept – is here to stay. The ever-growing rise of multimedia and social media platforms, combined with the ‘Internet of Things,’ will fuel the exponential growth of online data for the foreseeable future.


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