In IT terminology, Big Data is defined as a collection of data sets, which are so complex and large that the data cannot be easily captured, stored, searched, shared, analyzed or visualized using available tools. In global markets, such “Big Data” mostly appears during attempts to identify business trends from available data sets. Other areas, where Big Data continually appears include various fields of research including the human genome and the environment. The limitations caused by Big Data significantly affect the business informatics, finance markets and Internet search results. The processing of “Big Data” requires specialized software capable of coordinating parallel processing on thousands of servers simultaneously.
The importance of such large datasets cannot be overstressed specially with regard to businesses operating in periods of uncertainty, where the swift processing of market data to support decision-making may be the difference between survival and extinction. I recently came across an article on Big Data and its implication for industries in Ireland. The author, Jason Ward, is the country manager for EMC Ireland and his views on the use of Big Data by companies apply beyond than just Ireland. According to the author, one of the reasons for Ireland’s reliance on Big Data is the deepening of the Eurozone crisis. However, the effects of the double dip recession in Europe would affect markets all over the world. In such a situation, it is natural for companies all over the world to focus on the use of Big Data to gain a competitive edge.
As the processing of these datasets is beyond the scope of most companies operating individually, hence a collaborative frame work is expected to emerge with companies operating different sections of the new data analytics process and sharing the results obtained from processing such data. In a world, where smart phones outsell personal computers, Big Data Analytics is expected to be the next big with US, European and various Asian companies investing significantly in the field. The current data sources for Big Data includes but is not limited to buyer information from retailers, information posted by individuals on social networking sites as well as historic enterprise data of production and sales. As Big Data is generated through the interaction of multiple factors, advances in the analytics of large datasets are expected to result in the introduction of techniques capable of handling more and more variables using available computing resources.
Recently Publicized Commercial uses of Big Data
Recent examples included the targeted marketing of baby products by the US-based retailer Target, which used these emerging techniques to determine customers who would require baby care products in the recent future based on their purchase patterns. The source of the data was the information collected by Target from its customers during previous visits to their outlets. Each buyer is assigned an ID number in Target’s database and their purchases are tracked. This information was processed and leveraged by Target in order to predict customer buying patterns and design targeted marketing campaigns.
Additional sources of these datasets for use by business intelligence solutions include information available on public forums; social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter as well as the digital shadows left by our visit to websites. Such data is analyzed by Amazon and correlated with the product analysis, searches and reviews of other individuals to generate more accurate product recommendations for visitors to its online shopping website. Apart from business use, the capability to collect, classify and analyze such large data quantities would also be crucial for the Healthcare industry by helping the identification and analysis of drug interactions, personal medical as well as various social and economic factors which affect the outcome of treatments. The analysis of Big Data refers to a new world of data science, which Cisco estimates will be comprised of about 10 billion internet-enabled devices.
The Road Ahead for Market Growth
Though industry analysts and experts agree that Big Data Analytics is the next revolution the field of data analytics, however, how the trend is to be expanded is still a topic of much debate. Current suggestions to promote growth of the field include:
• Establishment of special courses to impart the necessary skills
• Inclusion of these analytic techniques as a paper in leading Applied Sciences courses
• Government-led initiatives with industry partnership to generate awareness among public
• Increase in R&D grants provided for improving current Big Data initiatives
These are only few of the suggestions, which would help this emerging analytics market develop into the future of all data analytics across multiple industries.