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What is Big Data?

What is Big Data?

What is Big Data? It can be seen as many things by many different people, Big Data can be just another name for the same data people have always used and is something to celebrated and embraced. Big Data is now an avalanche of data but an avalanche that can be controlled to provide business insights and value.

Over the past few years, when people ask what Big Data is, it has been defined in many different ways which caused a confusion surrounding the term. Because of the misunderstanding and misperceptions, you ask yourself if everyone is on the same page both in the sector and even within individual companies. For this question to be answered and understood, each individual company should be aware that they should include traditional data in the calculus and they should take social network interactions into consideration too.

How do we define Big Data? While every company will add its own tweaks here and there, here’s a one-sentence definition to the question that can be used to get the conversation started, Big Data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside of your company; it represents a source for further trend discovery and pattern analysis.

Opinions sometimes constrain Big Data to digital inputs like web behaviour and social network interactions but traditional data derived from product transaction information, financial records and interaction channels should not be excluded. Also data from call centres and point-of-sale should be included. Big data includes all of that although it may be dwarfed by the volume of digital data that’s now growing at a tremendous rate.

In defining big data, we should understand the mix of unstructured and multi-structured data that makes up the volume of information. Unstructured data is data derived from information that is not organized or easily interpreted by traditional databases or data models. It is usually text heavy. Metadata, Twitter tweets, Facebook posts and other social media posts are good examples of unstructured data. Multi-structured data explains data formats and types which are derived from interactions between people and machines i.e., web applications or social networks such as web log data combining a mix of text and visual images along with structured data like form or transactional information.

Digital disruption transforms communication and interaction channels and as marketing companies improve the customer experience across devices, web properties and social platforms, multi-structured data will continue to evolve.

Data industry leaders such as the data analyst company Gartner uses phrases like “volume” (the amount of data), “velocity” (the speed of information generated and flowing into the enterprise) and “variety” (the kind of data available) to explain the big data discussion. Other experts have included in their description other keywords such as big data’s “veracity” and “value”.

At the end of the day, every company needs to understand big data, what it is to them, what it means for them and its potential for data driven marketing. The most important part is to answer the question, what Big Data is. Once you start to look at Big Data, you’ll quickly find what you don’t know and then you’ll be in a position to resolve any problems. You will be able to use the insights you gather to start improving your customer engagement strategies, you can then really get to work with big data marketing to add more value to both your offline and online interactions.

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