Big Data – get used to the popular term, prepare for the tools.
Historically, Big Data was generally referenced when talking about huge Data Sets, high volume, high variety, the sort of information you get that is overloading your analysis tools, like being at a Carnival on a busy Sunny day. All this information is coming at you, but it is hard to process it, so you just focus on the one thing, whether it is the ferris wheel or the ice cream. Velocity is an issue when it comes to comprehension and gathering.
For quite some time we have been able to get all this Big Data, but the ability to process and analyse is fast becoming a big element in every day life – Data Mining. Imagine
ten years ago your local shopping centre could count the number of peolple who visited. now imageine that the same data collected will be revisited to see how many were male, female, over 40, under 2 metres, wearing boots, carrying a handbag, using an iPhone or Samsung, with children and the list goes on. With cameras the shopping centre can see who is coming in the door and with credit card usage they can study who is buying what and where. The car park tells a story of favourites makes and colours, ages and sizes etc. This is the same information as ten years ago, but now it can be analysed in its entirety.
Ten years ago, there would have been a data storage issue, cost of storing and the hardware to do it, but now the shopping centre can collect all the raw data, structured or unstructured and then work out how to market their offerings better. Maybe more women under 25 visit on a Tuesday morning between 8.00 and 10.00 am to shop before the mothers and toddlers, so the messaging can be directed to them specifically. With the right analytical tools, the data can be closely studied for any anomalies or changes and the reaction times can be reduced. These cost effective tools are fast becoming available to allow for this sort of work to be done, to allow marketers manage messaging and indeed help logisticians manage parking or traffic lights etc. The silos of information collected were hard to study in traditional databases, but now we have the tools to analyse and also do predictive analytics, by mining the data and guesstimating results or next steps. If we put an advert for Ray Bans on a Tuesday morning at 9.00am on Twitter with a 50% off discount, how many pairs will we sell and how many buyers will be Men or Women. In a more serious way, we can now analyse DNA or Gene Modification, we can study behaviour and predict results, faster and better. We may be able to sell more red boots in th efuture or save lives, either way it is because of our ability to capture data and mine it for the answers to our questions. Most businesses will use the information to help speed up processes for customers, improve the shopping experience and retain customers longer. Science will use big data to get answers faster and deliver results that will save lives. Authorities will use big data to improve services, connect with inhabitants and prevent terrorism.
Big Data Analytics
At its lightest point, we can see how the shoe store can sell more red boots and at its heaviest point we can see the Big Brother shadow get bigger and more powerful. As with all advances, in everything there is good and bad. We now have the ability to study high volumes of structured and unstructured data, cross check it for veracity and produce speedy results that allow us make faster decisions. Whether reducing the price of the red boots or landing a plane in fog, the technology aids better decision making. Examining large data sets at speed is a great advance, for medicine and marketing, so you will hear about it more and more as time goes on. Business Intellingence is employing data scientists to determine the optimum price for a Facebook Advert to when to reduce the heat in public buildings.
Big Data Mining
Data Mining is the sifting through of available data with the right tools to establish relationships or patterns to determine opportunities for new offers, upselling or add ons. This is basic stuff that can make a big difference in Marketing or Medicine. It can help us determine the path someone will take when visiting a shopping centre or town or website. We can determine what direction or flow they will want to take. That helps us lead them to a designated spot, whether that is a car park space or a pair of red boots.
Warning on Big Data
Without going in to database types and SQL or NoSql, Hadoop etc, we would point out that all of this is a combination of metrics being analysed, based on past results. If we take our lead from historical data, we will end up selling yesterdays news, wellies on a dry day, sun glasses on a wet day etc. Good analytics will include Predictive Analytics tools, but there will always have to be a human element in the decision making. Web Mining can help us improve flow in a website and improve page views, reduce bounce rate and increase conversion, to tell more or sell more. Do get to understand how web mining, data mining or big data can help your business, then employ the right people or tools to do the work required to improve your offering.