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It is the ability to take massive amounts of data and derive a story from it.
A few years ago, all this data was gibberish to companies, but the entrance of distributed computing and parallel processing has changed all of that. Now one can analyse data, detect patterns and make predictions. This feeds into business analytics and essentially shapes strategies for companies, from marketing through to product development – quite simply big data has huge implications for every business.
With big data you can predict your customers’ needs and even future complaints!
To illustrate – hurricane Francis 2012 was on its way in the US and everyone was preparing. While all stores were stocking essential items like pasta and torches, Walmart stacked its shelves with strawberry Poptarts. Strange right? However, guided by terabytes of big data, Walmart was able to accurately predict that the demand for this particular item was going to surpass the supply so they stockpiled 7x the usual supply. And surprisingly, they sold them all.
Another story is Netflix and how they designed the success of the popular show ‘House of Cards’. They used massive amounts of data collected over the years to guide the creative direction of the show. So strong was their confidence in the shows success, they signed off on two seasons even before the airing of the pilot episode! A $100 Million vote of confidence because of big data.
Big companies are not the only ones capitalising on big data. Smaller companies with smaller budgets are also benefiting from big data. Targeted Facebook ads are an especially good example of this. When it comes to personal information, Facebook’s collection of personal data is simply unmatched. Facebook can predict what users will be interested in purchasing in the coming days, weeks and months.
It does this through collecting massive amounts of even minor data for instance; how long you hover your curser over a particular link. With their most recent acquisition of Oculus the virtual reality firm, they will be able to even track and record how long you look at a certain object. All this personalised data and the analysis that follows it allows small business to cost-effectively target their audience with shocking accuracy and rather inexpensively. Big data is changing the landscape for technology and business. The fundamental message is that big data is a valuable resource that should not be ignored. It has allowed firms, big and small to compete at an almost level playing field through the easy access of big data – the only aspect that differs is how companies now interpret this data and apply it to different avenue of their business, be it marketing or product development.