Basics of Big Data

Data in the digital universe doubles in size every two years, according to research from the International Data Corporation (IDC). By 2020, IDC expects it to reach 44 trillion gigabytes. It is not surprising that organizations have massive amounts of data waiting to yield useful insights. Hence, they need a way to capture, analyze and understand big data.

“Current business conditions and mediums are pushing traditional data management principles to their limits, giving rise to novel, more formalized approaches,” Doug Laney writes in “3D Data Management: Controlling Data Volume, Velocity and Variety.

Big data is not just about the amount of data. That is only half the equation. The other half is doing something useful with it.

What Is Big Data?

Big data consists of vast amounts of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources, including social media, archived documents, connected devices, public records, transactions, customer inquiries and online searches.

Processing big data requires more than a simple database, spreadsheet or software. Collecting the data is the easy part. The challenge lies in turning all the information into meaningful insights. Based on these insights, organizations can act to increase revenues, improve operations and enhance customer support.

What Are the Different Types of Big Data?

Here are the four types of big data analytics:

  • Prescriptive — what action to take.
  • Diagnostic — what happened and why.
  • Predictive — what might happen.
  • Descriptive — what is currently happening.

How Can Companies Benefit From Big Data?

Companies can benefit from the use of big data regardless of their size or industry. They can gain insights from big data to reduce costs, accelerate decision-making, increase revenues and improve efficiency. Traditional data typically gets information from a single data set, but big data has a wider and richer focus.

Big data enables companies to analyze large volumes of data from diverse sources. This analysis yields a more comprehensive view than traditional data can. Big data can also supply large amounts of real-time information, providing management with bases for quick decision-making.

What Are the Challenges Associated With Big Data?

The rapid influx of large volumes of data from a variety of sources makes it hard to identify what information is relevant and how to use it. Current technology may not be able to keep pace with the digital world’s exponential growth rate. Therefore, organizations must define a strategy and earmark funding for new technology that can handle the processing of large amounts of data.

Furthermore, the technology may not be able to access all of the data. Overcoming this challenge requires building an infrastructure and integrating it. Companies also struggle with finding people who know more than big data basics. They need professionals with the knowledge and skills to organize and analyze the data. Depending on the type of organization, a company may need to consider the governance, compliance and risk management aspects of data protection.

How Do Businesses Use Big Data?

Many industries and operational functions can capitalize on big data. Marketing uses big data to analyze and measure campaigns. For example, the fashion industry uses big data to identify trends by location, preferences and inventory.

Companies are using big data in a variety of ways.

  • Determining cost-effective ways to provide training.
  • Managing inventory to prevent over- and understocking.
  • Predicting which job candidates are most likely to succeed.
  • Serving relevant ads, products and information on their websites.
  • Unifying patient information for access at point of care.
  • Testing variations of a product to analyze costs and performance.

How Can Someone Learn Big Data Basics?

A helpful place to start learning the basics of big data is to read articles, watch videos and take free online courses from trusted resources. You can also read a book or two on the basics of big data.

Can You Earn a Master of Business Administration in Big Data?

If you want to go beyond big data basics, you may want to consider enrolling in an MBA program in business analytics. Earning an MBA degree may enhance your career and lead to a promotion or a higher-paying job. An MBA program can expand your knowledge of marketing, accounting, business law, finance and statistics.

If you have a full-time job, it can be tough to find time to participate in MBA classes. One option is to seek an accredited online MBA program. Such a program can provide you with the flexibility you need to balance the coursework with your existing personal and professional commitments. Some programs allow you to earn the degree in as few as 16 to 24 months.

A 2014 Gartner Survey found that 73 percent of organizations had invested or planned to invest in big data within two years. The McKinsey Global Institute predicted a shortage by 2018 of 1.5 million analysts and managers with the skills to analyze data. Thus, there is a growing demand for MBA in business analytics graduates who can produce valuable actionable insights using big data.

Learn more about the University of Tennessee Chattanooga online MBA with Business Analytics Concentration program.


META Group: 3D Data Management: Controlling Data Volume, Velocity, and Variety

IDC: The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things

Gartner: Gartner Survey Reveals That 73 Percent of Organizations Have Invested or Plan to Invest in Big Data in the Next Two Years

McKinsey & Co.: Big Data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity

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