Big data is becoming one of those overused buzz words. You can’t turn on a website or look at a social media app without reading about big data. However, like many overused buzzwords, most people don’t know what it means.
Rich Batenburg Jr, of Cliintel in Denver has been involved in what we call big data for 20 years. He refers to his firm as “data scientists.” Batenburg defines big data as “having many facts across many dimensions of your business. Data Science allows you to pivot to understand what is going on now and let you forecast what will be going on in the future.”
In other words, big data is multiple data sources which are created by many systems.
Big data can also refer to big websites with big user groups and big amounts of information collected.
Just about everyone has big data. This is due to the facts that .processing has become so cheap. Companies have many applications, many businesses units. This gives firms more facts than they can possible digest. More and more administration systems create more and more data.
Inexpensive processing means we can collect and store and share more data. As an example, today’s Iphone has more processing power than all the computer power on the spacecraft NASA launched in the 1960’s. Just for fun and a slightly different bend…what’s on board for free on a Mac has more tools to record music than the Beatles ever had!
The trend is that everyone is harvesting everything. In another example, a 1 terabyte hard drive now costs $80 and you can be bought off the shelf at any retail electronics store. Batenburg compares this to spending $1 million for same storage space 10 years ago.
So is it logical that big data can be the next big global industry? Both Batenburg and I say: “It already is!”
Batenburg argues that is has been a large global industry since 2008. Every time someone logs into a website, they are giving out information. It may be their name and address, their credit card information or simply their search behavior. We know that Google knows what you initially looked for, what you looked for additionally, how long you spent on its site, what time of day it is, where you are, what you searched for in the past and whether or not you searched for same thing more than once, among many other “data bytes.”
Are Facebook likes and page rankings from Mexico useful to us? Can U.S. firms harness this data to understand Mexican buying habits better? Will we get any insight as to how to manage our own Mexican employees? Can we sell that data right back to companies in Mexico? Are there any other companies out there that might want this user-generated insight to understand Mexican markets?
In a simple example, if we knew Mexicans didn’t spend any time on sites that look purple, and didn’t search for purple things and didn’t buy purple goods it might help us a pick a color for our new line of sportswear. It could certainly help us rule out purple! And that is only a small part of what we might learn with a few million Google searches..
When Egyptian children can bring the Egyptian government down with data, it shows the changing landscape and importance of this tool. A Harvard dropout creates a website with 1 billion users. Kids with smart phones topple a totalitarian regime.
If you want to hear Batenburg and I speak, tune into this International Business Podcast on big data.
Whether you like it or not, you are in the big data business.