If your IT department has not yet invested heavily in database systems, big data analysis, and business intelligence (BI) tools that will help you gather and analyze information about consumer behaviors, industry trends, and products, then it probably will not be long before they do. In fact, a recent study by Gartner, Inc. indicated that this is the year many companies are planning to take the plunge and invest in big data technology that will expand their business intelligence capabilities.
What is Big Data?
Our world is filled with data and information, to the point that most companies have trouble sorting through the volume of information that is available to them. While it’s great to have a lot of data, analysis, and information that could potentially help you identify your customers’ needs and wants, the truth is that all the information in the world is useless unless you have the tools to sort through it to find the meaning and the patterns that will enable you to design your products and services accordingly.
That is where big data comes in—it’s a term that refers to the volume of information that exists in the world, and efforts to aggregate it from several disparate data sources into one meaningful block of information that can produce the key pieces of information that will influence company behavior.
What Companies Learn from Big Data
There are very few things today that cannot be tracked, traced, and analyzed with a database. While this offers a unique opportunity for businesses to discover more and more information about their current and potential consumers, it also means that there is a lot of information that you have to sort through to get to the most useful data. Companies that invest in the technology needed to sort through and find what they need from the information they gather will have an advantage in understanding a broad range of information about not only current and potential customers needs and desires, but also overall industry trends that can shape future strategy.
Industry Leaders Getting on Board with Big Data
A worldwide study by Gartner, Inc. indicated that while there have been some early adopters using big data and similar business intelligence to guide their overall strategic planning, and of those industry leaders who have not yet adopted the technology, nearly half (42 percent) either already have or are planning to invest in the infrastructure needed to take advantage of the information out there. Rather than being just an abstract concept, companies today have a better understanding of what big data can offer and how it can transform their company, and are now trying to ensure that they can put the right technology and people in place to maximize the impact that big data can have on their organization, according to Gartner research vice president Doug Laney.
The Technology Curve
In business, there are several forces that can propel a company toward adopting new technology. Many companies have seen potential opportunities that they cannot take advantage of with the limited technology they have, and the media hype that has followed the early adoption of big data and its potential application for BI efforts everywhere starts to make other companies worry that if they don’t act now, they will lose a significant competitive advantage to others who are using big data. For these reasons, the Gartner study predicts that within just two years, big data capabilities will play a major role in the IT infrastructure of 20 percent of Global 1000 companies.
The Next Steps
Many companies are already collecting and storing a growing volume of information and data in anticipation of the shift to a big data approach. The next step for most companies is cutting through all the hype that exists and figuring out exactly what technology you need, what approaches to collecting and analyzing big data will be most useful for your company purposes, and the options and alternatives that exist for you to get the right infrastructure in place.
Information has long been one of the most valuable resources that a company has to gain insight into consumer behaviors, predict industry trends, and optimize products and services to meet the needs of the industry. Big data today offers a unique opportunity to see an even bigger picture and deploy that insight in ways that can make an impact on your company’s strategy. The next step is figuring out the best ways to manage and deploy that information through your IT infrastructure.
Article Courtesy of Thomas Stone of The Marketing Robot. For further reading about emerging trends in Big Data Analysis.
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