Big data continues to be a big topic for businesses, as organizations stand to gain much from analyzing data and identifying trends. This can help you understand how your business will function in the future, but there are two topics of concern that you need to consider before using the data: how exactly do you want to use the data, and will the data that you’ve collected help you in achieving that goal?
Big data, according to Gartner’s IT glossary, is “high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.” Organizations collect data and use analytical tools to discover trends and other useful information that can be used to augment their business endeavor. Of course, there will always be one thing that holds back any business that collects data for this intention, and that’s the data itself. Is it even useful for its intended purpose?
It’s actually quite simple. You can collect as much data as you want, but how useful that data is for your organization could be up for debate. For example, a restaurant using surveys to track what kind of meals its customers like would be an effective way to introduce new and exciting dishes, while tracking what they wear and how they act likely won’t prove to be of much help. Basically, you want solid feedback that helps you provide better services to your existing customers, and data that can help you better target new clients.
In other words, your organization wants to collect data that helps you better target your audience and provide better services. Therefore, you’ll need big data that takes into account both your current audience and your target audience. Information that’s outside of this realm doesn’t help you at all.
Of course, big data doesn’t always seem to work as intended. Tom Goodwin at Forbes makes a claim that the human condition is counterproductive to big data, and that our behavior is often too unpredictable to fully use big data to its greatest potential: “Big Data doesn’t get how weird we are. Big data can’t explain how I can be a Guardian reading, Whole Foods loving, Golf playing guy that owns an old lowered plastidipped BMW with spinning chrome wheels. Well, I know I can’t. People are irrational, they do things for strange reasons that even they don’t understand. They may explain it, but they will post rationalize to seem more logical.”
Ultimately, big data means more than just analyzing data that’s collected, and your success with it may rely on what you choose to do with it. While you can potentially predict shifts in your industry, it’s important to take the results with a grain of salt. There will always be exceptions to the norm, and you need to take this into account. That’s just how we are as individuals, and until an algorithm can understand that, big data will be an interesting way to “almost” guess an outcome. Think of it as an educated guess; it might be right, but then again, it might not be.
So, how does your business use big data to its advantage?