Is big data the emperor’s new clothes?

By James Southgate

According to IBM, 90% of data that exists today has been created in the past two years. From social media to digital videos and from internet connected TVs to online credit card transactions, the amount of data being generated each day is mind blowing – 2.5 quintillion bytes of data to be precise. All that information is described as ‘big data’.

Think of big data as the desk research we had to rely on prior to the advent of ‘the connected world’. In today’s digitised world, companies have access to information like never before. Finding out what customer’s think about a brand, identifying consumer behaviour or predicting market trends is only a few clicks away. But is ‘big data’ only for companies with big budgets?

No, but up until recently data analysis was expensive – mainly because of the sheer size of the data available. Thankfully organisations with limited resources can now not only buy data from a host of companies including Google and Facebook, open source software is also available to help companies analyse a mountain of information.

In its simplest form, businesses can even examine the ‘chatter’ taking place on Twitter or Facebook. In fact charities – who have very limited resources – have successfully monitored sentiment on Twitter using software and have intervened to help people. Similarly businesses can monitor sentiment to identify what consumers may say about a brand or a service.

Big data may sound like emperor’s new clothes but you cannot ignore the fact that it does offer businesses – large and small – tremendous opportunities. With new buzz words, it is easy to feel intimated and dismiss it as nothing more than hot air. It is not. Big data is certainly not rocket science and as the starting point every business should ask itself: what information do we need? It sounds clichéd but – seek and you shall find.

About the author

James Southgate is Client Services Director at bss digital.

bss digital is the new division from bss which offers unparalleled expertise in web design and development, mobile and apps, e-commerce and systems integration capabilities. The new division integrates the award winning multi-channel customer contact services from bss with robust and creative web, mobile and content management systems from M-Corp, a company bss acquired in 2011. bss digital’s clients include LV=, National Fraud Authority, Kimberly-Clark Professional and the RSPCA. 

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