Big Data Makes a Big Difference

November 8, 2010
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One of the coolest parts of my job is seeing how companies use analytics to drive their business. The term “big data” has become somewhat of a superstar in the world of analytics recently, but it’s also the complexity and richness of the insights from that data which make it a “big data” challenge for companies to tackle with traditional data management infrastructures. It’s not just size that matters – it’s analytical power. That is to say, what you DO with data.

One of the coolest parts of my job is seeing how companies use analytics to drive their business. The term “big data” has become somewhat of a superstar in the world of analytics recently, but it’s also the complexity and richness of the insights from that data which make it a “big data” challenge for companies to tackle with traditional data management infrastructures. It’s not just size that matters – it’s analytical power. That is to say, what you DO with data.

And it’s not just in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street. October marked one year of the “Big Data Summit” road show which we hosted across the US to offer high-level executives, data analytic practitioners, and analysts the opportunity to share best practices and exchange ideas about solving big data problem within their industries and organizations. It was a huge success with an average of 80-100 people attending each summit in major cities including held New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, and Washington DC. We are starting the tour again later this month in New York City on November 18 and are rebranding it “Data Analytics Summit,” again because of the feedback that it’s more about the application of data in analytics and applications within a specific business area or industry.

Here are some examples. The attendees at the summits have been providing us with interesting data through surveys. The attendees are from a variety of industries, from traditional retailers to bleeding-edge digital media companies. We asked respondents questions like, “What are the biggest opportunities for benefiting from big data within the market?” Let me know if you think they missed any big opportunities. Here are a few of our findings:

–  Data exploration to discover new market opportunities: Nearly 30% of respondents thought that analyzing big data to find “the next big thing” was a huge opportunity. This supports the notion that data scientists will be one of the sexiest jobs in the future.

– Behavioral targeting: 16% surveyed called out the importance of establishing links between purchasing behavior and areas like advertising spend to better tailor budgets and promotional campaign

– Social Network Analysis: 15% of those surveyed responded that using social network analysis to build a more complete profile of their customer base is a key business opportunity

– Monetizing Data: 15% of respondents say monetizing data is key for organizations seeking to unlock the hidden value within previously untapped asset

– Fraud Reduction and Risk Profiling: Distinguishing good customers from bad ones, for fraud reduction (10%) and risk profiling (10%), was identified as critical for financial institutions

Another general observation from attendees is that using sampled or aggregated data is no longer a viable business option for rich analytics and there is an urgent need to analyze all available data including structured and unstructured data.

Greatest big data opportunities

What other areas do you see? Let us know what you think or if you have any questions on the statistics. I don’t claim to be an industry analyst, but it was fun to look at the breakdown of how various cities responded to the survey.