Advanced technology, however you look at it, is quickly taking over the whole world. There are already billions of devices connected to the internet, from smartphones to cars. And the number of smart devices will keep growing as the years go by.
These devices are all packed with sensors that are capable of processing large amounts of data, such as weather information, social media posts, phone call logs, purchase records and multimedia graphics. Pretty much everything you do is logged in some shape or form.
As you can imagine, considering the amount of things we do on our smart devices, there’s a lot of data involved. In fact, we generate around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data on a daily basis (source: IBM). The name for this is big data.
Businesses, regardless of the industries in which they operate, are realising they can benefit greatly from this information. Although big data can often be hard to manage – with the sheer amount of it in mind – it offers a plethora of valuable business opportunities. We explore them.
In a number of sectors and areas of technology, cloud solutions are playing a crucial role. This is also the case in the case of big data. Monica Brink, director of marketing at internet solutions company Iland, believes that firms can combine the cloud with big data to create actionable insights and information.
“As cloud becomes mainstream, companies are deploying more and more mission-critical workloads to the cloud. Big data in the cloud enables businesses to glean actionable intelligence from the ever increasing volumes of data being generated,” she says.
“The cloud is a particularly useful platform for doing this – it enables organisations to perform high volume data analysis that might not otherwise be possible and avoids the cost and lead time of building out new infrastructure. Increasingly, companies who win in a particular market are going to be the ones that become most adept at using ‘big data’ to their advantage.”
As well as this, big data is also helping firms spot key trends within their sectors. “By leveraging big data, businesses are able to quickly analyse huge volumes of transactional data to spot trends and fluctuations that can give them a head start on the competition. As well as this, big data enables businesses to examine complex data, which previously would have required an investment in super-computing power or a specialist data analyst,” Monica adds.
A key business trend
Big data can also generate helpful analytics. Businesses can use this information for a variety of things, such as getting a better insight into the expectations of their customers and improving work processes for employees. Nick Felton, director of MHR Analytics, says big data is something firms should explore.
“From understanding customers, performing day-to-day operations and making decisions, analytics is a valuable asset for all businesses and it’s a trend that’s here to stay. We will see organisations beginning to deploy the full range of analytics,” he tells us.
“Descriptive analytics can help employees better understand what happened, diagnostic analytics can explain why an event happened and predictive analytics can find patterns and see what is likely to happen. Ultimately, though, it is about focusing on the data and its value to the business and not the technology.
“By unlocking the power of data that their activities generate, forward-thinking organisations will start to widen the gap with competitors and drive innovation in their respective industries.”
More than anything, it’s widely believed that big data is helping businesses uncover things they may not have realised or known in the past. Ed Thewlis, managing director of The DataShed, says implementing big data strategies can aid firms in all areas of operations and product development.
“Big data can help organisations access previously unseen areas of their business, operations and customer interactions, whilst also providing them with the tools to make savings in resources, time and operational costs, and simultaneously driving sales by enabling more effective interaction with their customers,” he says.
“Put simply, businesses can benefit from big data by using it to empower them to make smarter decisions. And, as the Internet of Things has become more ubiquitous, more data has become available to organisations than ever before, meaning there’s never been a better time to take advantage of the valuable insights the data may be holding.”
Big data is an exciting area, and there are clearly ton of ways businesses can benefit from it. The thing is, our devices are constantly churning out information. So if firms are to reap the rewards, they’ll have to keep on top of things constantly. And we’ll continue to create even more data in the years ahead.