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Big Data: What the?

What is "Big Data" and how does it create competitive advantage in business? 

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There's been a bit in the press about "Big Data" lately. Yours truly attended the Ad:Tech Digital Data Summit in Sydney recently, which managed to fill an entire day talking about it. I managed to fill a couple of pages writing about it for Anthill Online, but before that article is released, I figured I might cover the main points for the curious, confused or contemplative among you.

 

What does it mean?

The name "Big Data" is really just a buzz word to describe the volume, variety and velocity of data we are generating every moment of every day. Think of it as "infinitely changing and available data”, ponder how much data your company is probably generating about customers, prospects and staff and then try not to stress out about the fact that by the end of this sentence, the goal-posts have moved.

It’s not about how "big" the data is, it’s how you use it that matters.

Don't read too much into data for the sake of it. What if you are wrong and alter strategies based on false positives? The ever-changing behavioural data sets at your disposal (i.e. the data that can help you "predict" what your customers want) is a moving target and requires sophisticated analytics to read it correctly.

Data should be about the future.

We tend to focus on what our customers have done in the past to try to predict the future, but imagine if we could tap into our customers' "preferred future" and then play a role in creating that for them? That would be cool.

Use Data to predict what we think will happen and we turn into Pacman; blindly “eating” data until an unpredictable ghost-like creature surprises and then kills us. On the other hand, approach Data with a view to unlocking what might, could or should happen and we are more in tune with the Universe, tapping into the unknown.

Smarter analysis and real insight turns Big Data into gold.

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