Friday, December 3, 2021

How to Approach Big Data: A Beginner’s Guide

There’s a new resource floating around the business community that you’ve never heard of but could make your life a lot easier. More and more corporations are taking advantage of big data.

Big data is defined fairly easily — they’re sets of information that are complicated and quite large. Usually, big data is so complex that processing it using traditional data management programs is very hard.

Although big data as a concept has been around since the 1990s, the recent rise of new technologies has allowed big data to take on new and more efficient forms. Big data can pay huge dividends for your business and its employees, so it’s important for you to learn everything you can about the concept.

Big data is important

Businesses rely on data to function and thrive. Data gives companies a competitive advantage over one another, as it’s the pool of information that can be used to develop more effective strategies.

Data is utilized for business purposes through analytics, which is the process of drawing conclusions based on raw information. Analyzing constant streams of numbers and data through descriptive, predictive, or prescriptive analytics can produce rather useful information.

This has made data one of the hottest commodities in the business world. The more data you have, the better chance you have of succeeding. Big data becomes all the more important as a business keeps accumulating information that it seeks to use to gain a competitive advantage.

Remember that big data is massive sets of information, so new answers and business strategies are floating around somewhere in that mass. Big data has allowed businesses and individuals alike to make more informed decisions about their strategies and processes.

Data gives companies a competitive advantage over one another, as it’s the pool of information that can be used to develop more effective strategies. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)
Data gives companies a competitive advantage over one another, as it’s the pool of information that can be used to develop more effective strategies. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Benefits

There are many benefits to using big data, the most important of all being the addition of actionable information to your business. Analytics can ultimately provide the edge your company needs to get ahead of the competition.

Within these analytical processes comes the potential for the creation of new business solutions. Companies constantly analyze data to create solutions that improve overall performance. And since information can be collected and analyzed about products, resources, competition, and customers, data can always yield insightful and innovative ideas for improvement.

Big data can also open the door to cutting costs, improving efficiency, and complying with regulations. There are many database services that a company can use for big data that are very cost-efficient and that help companies operate effectively.

Making use of big data allows companies to do away with inconsistencies in older systems and adopt newer technologies. These newer systems are typically more congruent with national and IT regulations.

Maximize big data

It’s not enough to just understand what big data is — you’ve got to be able to maximize your potential based on the data your company is receiving. If you don’t know how to efficiently sift through all of that raw information, you could be letting smart business solutions slip right through your fingers.

The first and most important step is to establish a culture that embraces data-driven thinking within your organization. Encourage your employees to explore all options in data analysis, as doing so could potentially uncover unique correlations within the data.

Next, you should invest in learning platforms, such as TensorFlow. These programs enable predictive analysis and examine apparently unrelated factors to uncover critical insights for your business.

Basically, the more data you stockpile, the more information you have available to train your machine learning platform, therefore making it more accurate over time. For example, a trucking company can use employee data to identify which of its drivers are more accident-prone, based on a combination of driving behavior and road or weather conditions.

It’s not enough to just understand what big data is — you’ve got to be able to maximize your potential based on the data your company is receiving. (Image via pixabay / CC0 1.0)
It’s not enough to just understand what big data is — you’ve got to be able to maximize your potential based on the data your company is receiving. (Image via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Common mistakes

As many benefits as there are with big data, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid as well. Relatively speaking, big data is still a new and evolving idea.

One of the most common mistakes made by a business is to simply collect and store data because it’s just that — data. No matter how easy it may be to find yourself in this place, don’t worship data.

There’s a big temptation to simply take in all the data you possibly can and store it, even without a clear use for it. This is a mistake — especially if your business is measured by its bottom line. Rather than hoarding the data, try collecting only what you know you’ll need to create actionable business solutions.

Another common mistake businesses make is hoping that an algorithm will miraculously spit out business solutions once-massive amounts of data are dumped into the information pool. This rarely succeeds, as even data analysis needs a human eye.

Also, make sure your objective is still focused on actionable steps for business success, and not on finding a one-shot solution that answers all of your questions.

And finally, never forget to establish a big data analysis team within your company. Having in-house analysis creates a sort of cohesion that fosters a better company culture.

Moreover, the team will have the same primary objective as you — working toward the success of the business.

Those who stay sedentary for most of the day can adopt these 6 simple habits to keep healthy. (Image: Pexels.com)
The first and most important step is to establish a culture that embraces data-driven thinking within your organization. (Image: via pexels / CC0 1.0)

Make big data work for you!

If your corporation isn’t analyzing data to help itself grow and be competitive, it needs to start now. If for no other reason than because all of your competitors are doing it, understand that any answers pulled from analyzed data can prove to be a difference-maker.

All of the information you’ll need to succeed is right at your fingertips — you just need to have the right system and processes in place to be able to read it and draw the correct conclusions from it.

Take a look at other businesses that thrive at utilizing big data — Google, Amazon, or Facebook — and ask how you and your business can mimic what has made those businesses so successful worldwide. Whatever they’re doing, given a little time, might be able to work for you.

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Megan Nichols
Megan is a huge fan of all things nerdy, geeky, and unusual. She makes the most exciting scientific discoveries easier to understand and encourages others to join the conversation. As a freelance writer, she also enjoys sharing her knowledge by writing for other science, technology, and engineering blogs around the web
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