Big Data As The New Fuel for Business

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

The say the future of business is in the cloud. 72% of organizations today have at least one application in the cloud, and spending in this area continues to be on the rise. Cost efficiency, agility and speed to-market are just some of the undeniable advantages that cloud computing services have to offer. But there is another “big” area of interest that’s about to become one of the largest business opportunities of the century.

Big data is the new oil according to Jer Thorp, co-founder of the Office for Creative Research, a multi-disciplinary research group. And according to Foursquare’s Andreq Hogue, for every two degrees that go up, check-ins at ice cream shops also go up by 2%. That’s the power of

…BIG data

Almost everyone agrees that big data is becoming more and more important, as long as you do something with it. Data is slowly but surely becoming the foundation of all the trends around us, including social, mobile, cloud and gaming.

Big data is a term that the IT industry uses to describe huge data sets that can’t be handled by traditional processing applications. To sift through, analyze and generate actionable insight from this huge amount of information, you need something that can efficiently process it within tolerable elapsed times. Examples of technologies employed for this purpose include A/B testing, crowdsourcing, data fusion, genetic algorithms, machine learning, signal processing, natural language processing simulation, time series analyst, visualisation, massively parallel-processing (MPP) databases, data mining, distributed file systems, cloud-based infrastructure, and of course, the Internet itself.

The reason why so many technologies have to converge to make big data a reality is the need for accuracy. Without accuracy, big data is just that – a whole bunch of data that sits around waiting to be discovered and interpreted. But crunch it accurately and you get better decision making, greater operational efficiency, cost reduction and reduced risk – tentpole aspects of running a successful business, big or small.

The new raw material of business

A 2014 survey by Dell showed that 41% of mid-market businesses had one or more big data projects in place, with another 55% planning to start one in the near future. That’s nearly every mid-market business out there. Furthermore, 89% of respondents with a big data initiative in progress reported significant improvements in decision making across the entire company. In 2014, budgets for big data were projected to rise to $6 million over the course of two years, but a more recent study shows that these expectations were conservatory.

According to data compiled by IDG in 2015, “big picture” tools will be worth investing $7.4 million over the next year. Specifically, the top three investments will be in data analytics (58%), visual dashboards (42%), and data mining (38%).

Since 2014, there has been a 125% increase in the number of businesses that have implemented or deployed data-driven projects. The business goals driving these investments are improving the quality of decision making (61%), improving planning and forecasting (57%), increasing the speed of decision making (51%), according to IDG’s newer data set.

83% of organizations who view it as critical or high-priority have structured data initiatives set in place and 43% have kick-started unstructered data initiatives. The CIO (Chief Information Officer) is the decision maker in this area, followed by the CEO and the rest of the IT staff who are also involved in the decision-making process. The IT steering committee also plays an important role. The top challenges this year were limited availability of skilled employees (cited by 48% of respondents), limited budget (47%), and legacy issues (40%).

Data center hardware | Image credits:

Big is an understatement

To end, I’ll leave you with some stupendous facts about big data that will either scare you or excite you to the point of investing in it, depending on where you stand. Be sure to leave your impressions down in the comments section below.

  • Thanks to selfies, social networks, increased storage capacities and the growing popularity of video streaming, more data has been created in the past few years than in the entire history of the human race
  • By 2020, we will have created 44 zettabytes / 44 trillion gigabytes of data (from 4.4 zettabytes today), and every person on the planet will be generating 1.7 megabytes of information every second
  • Today, we perform 40,000 search queries every second on Google alone
  • Facebook has 1.44 billion monthly active users (most of whom are mobile); every minute, these users send on average 31 million messages and view 2.7 million videos
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • By 2020, the IoT space will boast 50 billion smart connected devices, all designed to collect, analyze and share data
  • In the next 5 years, a third of all the data we generate will pass through the cloud
  • Hadoop, the open source software for distributed computing that processes large sets of data on commodity hardware will be worth 1$ billion by 2020
  • Big data has the potential to slash $1,000 in medical costs every year for every man, woman and child on the planet
  • Retail stands to increase operating margins by 60% by leveraging big data
  • For a typical Fortune 1000 company, a 10% increase in data accessibility is estimated to translate into 65$ additional net income

And now the mind-blowing reality check: Less than 1% (one percent) of all the data we generate is being analyzed and used. Yes, you read that right. So, how does big data become the fuel for business in the years ahead? Easy, by analyzing it!

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