Thursday, 23 Jan 2020

BIG DATA, BIG DECISIONS

In an age of fake news, streams of unverified data from the web, and the proliferation of technologies and organisations that can both generate and collect data, both the physical and digital economy are impacted and driven by data.

Data is power, and data can help you, as a business owner, operator or executive, make better decisions. Let’s explore this deeper.

    Understanding What Big Data Is

    Big data, as a field, encompasses data processing, data analytics and any process or system that deals with or engages in the extraction of information from sets of data that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional systems or processes.

    If you imagine thousands of rows and columns of data -- statistics, numbers, use behaviour information, for example -- which can tell you a story of how well your new product is doing or which customers in which areas are choosing your competitor’s product, then that is a simplified picture of what big data looks like. At its most simple, big data can reveal relationships or can help formulate predictions of outcomes and behaviours.

    Big data is huge, unimaginable volumes of data that cannot be processed using traditional methods within the given time frame. It is large buckets of data that is uncomfortable to store, transport or analyse. Data sets grow rapidly because data is increasingly gathered by cameras, microphones, mobile devices, software logs, radio-frequency identification (RFID) -- these are devices that are inexpensive, information sensing and often IoT-enabled. 

    The increased connectivity of devices thanks to IoT has meant there is an upsurge in the amount of information that organisations collect, manage and analyse. For companies large and small, big data helps them unlock big (and small) insights.

    Improved technologies and increased connectivity has also made collecting data easier and more affordable, which, for smaller companies, presents the possibility of competing on a more equal footing with their larger, more established counterparts. Small and medium enterprises are known to utilise the power of big data to build stronger customer relationships or to minimise risk and fraud.

    Real or near-real time information delivery is one of the defining characteristics of big data analytics, and we must remember that developed economies increasingly use data-intensive technologies. There are over four billion mobile-phone subscriptions worldwide and roughly two billion people worldwide accessing the Internet. 

    Companies such as Oracle, IBM and Microsoft are spending billions on software specialists who are qualified to handle data management and analytics.

    Since the 1980s, it is reported that the world’s technological capacity to store information has approximately doubled every 40 months. IDCpredicts there will be over 100 zettabytes of data by the year 2025. (A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes.)

    The question is, is big data better data?

    What Do I Do With All This Data?

    For starters, better business decisions. While the volume of data can determine the value of the insights derived from it, ultimately it is what you do with those insights from big data that can help, rather than hinder, your business.

    That is the general accepted philosophy, tempered with buckets of optimism, pragmatism and a few challenges along the way. 

    Organisations such as Google, for example, have collected sets of big data for decades -- giving rise to technologies and applications that have made life better, but which have also helped with product development. Data streams in from smart cars, wearables, IT systems and other consumer- or business-centric equipment and machines.

      This big data is often analysed with the help of supercomputers. Putting big data to work for your business means firstly identifying the sources of big data, subsequently accessing, managing and storing the data and finally analysing the data.

      The effective use of big data and technology can make important contributions to business: cost-effective opportunities to improve decision-making, security, economic productivity, resource management and so on. For example, big data can be gathered from the receipts generated at the points-of-sale to gather insights on the customers’ buying habits.

      Manufacturers use the insights from big data to gain an advantage in their processes such as boosting quality and minimising waste. These advantages help in a highly-competitive marketplace. Banks use big data to help with process automation, minimise risk and fraud but also for understanding their customer deeply, such as where they are using their debit cards. Hospitals use big data to get things done quickly and accurately, important considerations when dealing with patients. 

      How Do I Ensure My Data Is Secure?

      With so much data, the question of security and storage arises.

      Modern computing systems provide the speed, flexibility and power necessary for accessing massive amounts of data, integrating it, ensuring the quality of the data, overseeing the governance of the data, and preparing it for analytics.

      Businesses need to ensure that while data presents opportunities for improvement and efficiency, storing this data securely is equally important. Cloud solutions are worth considering, as data is also a form of business asset. It makes business sense to protect this asset against cyber threats and cyber-attacks, and so, businesses should prioritise looking into cloud-based IT security systems. Large telcos such as Celcom, with enterprise-focused solutions and capabilities, offer these cloud security solutions for businesses, so before you can see the full power of what big data can do, invest in secure cloud storage for your enterprise’s big data. Big data for booming business.

      Today’s economy is fast becoming a data-infused and analytics-based culture. 

      Big data cannot be ignored if you want your business to grow and compete, and a core part of your business’ big data strategy should include collaborating with reliable and trusted specialists to help you manage your big data and store it securely.

      Intelligent, data-driven business decisions are the new operating culture for businesses, and business heads need to embrace this fully for that competitive edge.