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Big data doesn’t need to be a big headache in 2014
by George Davies, CEO, MooD International
Thursday, January 23, 2014

While 2013 was the year that the term ‘big data’ made it into public consciousness, some are picking 2014 as the year that it will actually go mainstream. An IDG report found that 74 per cent of the enterprises they surveyed predicted that big data will be in mainstream use in at least one business unit or department this year. Interestingly, the same survey found that the most critical success factor for working with big data is identifying the business areas and processes where it can have the biggest impact. This very much chimes with our experience of working with big data with our clients.

Big data can be overwhelming; by its very nature it involves huge data sets and trying to find patterns in information that is increasing exponentially all the time. However, this is where many businesses fall into the first trap. Rather than looking at all the information at the source and then trying to find out what it is saying, people should be identifying the business objectives that they are trying to achieve and analysing the data to help them achieve these outcomes. Whether that is increased customer satisfaction or profits, working back through the data to find the relevant information is a far more effective approach. By looking at what the business is trying to achieve and then identifying the levers which impact on these objectives, businesses can save wasting time and effort.

Naturally, before analysing big data a business will have been collecting it for a period of time, sometimes for many years. When they finally look to analyse it the data sets may be in no fit state and require huge amounts of cleaning first. But again, if a business has defined what objectives they want to achieve then it can concentrate on cleaning the information that will be the most useful.

And finally, attention needs to be paid to how data gets into the system in the first place. Wherever possible data should be pulled from the source, not several steps up the chain when it may have been altered by employees. This minimises the chance of human error distorting the data and therefore the results.

Big data can be the source of incredible insights for a business, however it’s essential to start with the business objectives and work downwards. This will yield the greatest rewards and is the smart way to manage big data.

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