What is Big Data?

Big data means lots of unorganized information. If it fits in Excel or Access, it’s not big data. Big data is too big and unruly to fit in one database. In most organizations, data is spread among databases, Excel sheets, web analytics, white papers, and marketing surveys. Some data is not even written down, but safely and securely in the minds of a few key employees. Somewhere in this mess of text and numbers are insights that will solve some of your marketing problems as well as introduce you to new opportunities.

Amazon and Google are the leaders in analyzing big data. Both have used it to gain a significant competitive advantage. Amazon’s recommendation engine is a dream come true for a marketing department. The capability of analyzing big data can do wonders for your company as well. Can you imagine all the possibilities if you were able to harness the power of all the information around you? The possibilities are limitless.

Unfortunately, gathering and analyzing big data is challenging. Data is spread throughout your organization and “belongs” to different people who may not want to share. Even when you do get everyone on board, the data exists in different formats and locations. Contradictions abound. Porting the data into one container for analysis is a technical challenge that eats time and money. Once you get this far, you have to decide what to do with your collection. Most companies start with basic analytics just to find out what they have. You know there is precious metal, but you don’t know what kind or where it is buried. Data mining and advanced analytical techniques identifies patterns in the data. Some patterns are expected. Some patterns will raise more questions than they solve. The more you dive into your data the more there is to learn.

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