Every day your customers generate an abundance of data when they open their email, use a smartphone app or tag themselves on social media. Their purchases, interactions with customer service representatives or virtual assistants are another source of information. Companies that collect this information have a competitive advantage in making business decisions. The data can be used to increase customer engagement, improve marketing efforts or take a variety of other actions that lead to increased revenue and profits.
The biggest challenge in analyzing big data is dealing with its sheer volume. Large datasets can contain more than a billion entries, which is far beyond the capacity of most computer systems. In addition, much of this data is unstructured, meaning it cannot be easily sorted and stored. To be useful, it must be categorized and cataloged so other systems can find it.
Once the data is in a usable form, it can be evaluated by analytical and statistical tools to identify patterns and correlations. Once the analysis has been completed, it can be visualized to provide business users with insights. There are many visualization tools available, including Microsoft Power BI, Tableau and QlikView.
Big data has become a common technology in a wide range of industries. Entertainment companies, for example, utilize big data to provide personalized recommendations of movies and music. And companies like Netflix and Procter & Gamble use big data to anticipate customer demand for new products. While the benefits of big data are clear, companies that embrace it must manage its impact on their business operations and organizational culture.