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Big Data: What’s The Big Debate?

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Category : Blogs

What is “big data”? It’s one of the buzz terms of the last year, but there’s still a lot of debate, and even confusion, about what it means and how it can help businesses to answer business questions.

Defined by Gartner a few years ago as the term used by business to describe the  “extreme information management and processing issues which exceed the capability of traditional information technology along one or multiple dimensions to support the use of the information assets”.

In other words, there are business areas that generate large amounts of data arising from multiple sources. Big data analysis means analysing all of them together.

Big Data Is Relative.

Data sets are generally larger today because they’re linked to new technologies. Plus, they vary from business to business. For the likes of Google, volume is not an issue as systems are in place to cope with that quantity.

Some large companies do struggle to deal with high volumes of data even with sophisticated processes in place. Smaller companies are often unable to deal with data that extends beyond the 65,536 rows available on a standard Excel sheet.

Much of the discussion around big data analysis suggests that if you’re not using huge data sets you’re missing a trick. At Station10 we’d disagree.

Gartner goes on to say that “big data has focused primarily on the volume issues of extremely large data sets generated from technology practices such as social media, operational technology, Internet logging and streaming sources.”

Everyone has a website or uses social media, so surely this impacts everyone – right?

What Is The Big Debate?

Most of the debate so far has focused on data processing issues. But this focuses solely on the huge end of the spectrum – and ignores other vital pieces of the puzzle. That isn’t to say the volume of data and technological advances aren’t important (and impressive) – but those developments are a by-product of an increasing desire for solving business issues using insight and data. By focusing on intricate processing details, we risk losing sight of the business challenges and turn data analysis into a daunting prospect.

What Can Data Do For Your Business?

Businesses need to understand that data is an asset that can be used economically and efficiently to answer previously unanswerable questions.

If companies are to tackle today’s business challenges, they must be willing, and able, to exploit the data at their disposal – even if this means moving out of their comfort zones.

But it’s not all about the data – businesses must invest in the expertise to analyze but also to translate that analysis into something meaningful. You need to be able to use data insights to make those vital business decisions. Data-driven decisions are more informed and, therefore, more effective.

Let’s get on with it and make decisions that matter! 

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