What is Big Data?

How many times have you heard the term “big data” and wondered what makes big data different from just “data”? What is big data? What does it mean exactly? And what is it used for? What about “data mining”?

Keep reading to find out..

Data is..

A collection of facts and statistics.

What is Big Data? Big data is..

Large (think really large) volumes of data relating to a particular topic.

So why is Big Data important? Well, Forbes reports that information growth is tremendous and expected to continue growing exponentially. For a typical Fortune 1000 company, over $65 million net income stands to be gained with a mere 10% increase in data accessibility. But no matter your business size, data is here to stay. The question is, will you embrace data and use it to your advantage? Big data is available on all sorts of topics. In the past we’ve written about big data predicting the Oscar winners and the Presidential election. Yet big data isn’t just for national trends. In the real-world, businesses are flooded with big data on a daily basis, but what many don’t realize is that these large data sets can be helpful. The key to big data is narrowing the focus from the overwhelming quantities to just the meaningful information that will be critical to your business processes. As the data comes pouring into your business, it can be computed and analyzed through a process called “data mining.”

Data mining sifts through enormous amounts of data to identify patterns, generate new ideas, and predict outcomes. In short, the process takes daunting amounts of raw data and makes it useful.

Real-world example of data mining:

Amazon uses data mining to track which products customers are viewing and purchasing, and then offering cross-selling and up-selling opportunities through its “People who viewed/purchased this product also liked” function.

Big data and data mining aren’t just for Amazon, though. Companies can use it to:

  • analyze existing and potential customer behaviors
  • identify sales trends and adjust marketing strategies accordingly
  • offering incentives to prospective customers
  • cross-sell and up-sell based on customer online shopping habits
  • improve customer service practices
  • reduce customer churn rate

Chances are that at least one of those bullet points caught your eye. Now that we have discovered what data actually is and how it can be used, let’s move on to where to find the data you need to better your business. Read ’14 sources of business data that are yours for the taking,’ our next piece in our blog series, to learn more.

Didn’t catch the first of our Data blog series? Read ‘Part 1: 3 Reasons why Data is here to stay’ here.