Just when we feel we are drowning in information, along comes Big Data to save the day. Big Data refers to a dataset so large it is beyond the capability of a typical database to manage and make use of the information. But a set of advances in hardware and software now allows us to rapidly capture, organize, and make sense of vast oceans of data, enabling us to apply the results to make better business decisions.
Big Data can give us a strategic advantage. For example, investors could see global trends in trading across sectors in near-real time; they could respond much earlier to a downturn in prices in a given sector, avoiding the steep losses incurred by taking later action.
Big Data can also create a richer experience for customers. Bloomberg.com gathers more than 100 data points from every page an individual reader views, processing the data with 15 algorithms to personalize recommendations. Algorithms that understand natural language and rich media and can reason make Big Data technology even more useful in decision making. Novel visualization paradigms, 3D, and gesture interfaces make Big Data understandable and accessible to everyone.
Trying to deal with such enormous quantities of raw data can be intimidating, but today’s tools make it doable. Cisco IBSG Innovations offers five ways to get started:
1. Capture, index, and analyze rich media such as video, audio, and graphics. These leading-edge intelligence sources can provide strategic advantage.
2. Identify analysis tools with semantic capability to understand natural language, and reap insight from mushrooming social media.
3. Look to the Internet of Things and real-time event processing as rich sources of analytics data. Tap your network to deliver relevant events to your analytics engine.
4. Build visualization skill sets that allow you to make visual sense of the data. (See the accompanying visualization of national mood based on hundreds of millions of tweets.)
5. Consider the growing list of Big Data analytics cloud services.
Be creative. Think large. We can do things with Big Data that the world has never yet seen.
This cartogram depicts the typical mood of the United States at 5:00 a.m., derived from more than 300 million tweets collected from September 2006 through August 2009. Mood is depicted through color (from red for less happy to green for more happy), and number of tweets is depicted geographically by proportionately increasing or decreasing the physical size of the region. For more about this project, conducted by researchers at Northeastern University and Harvard University, see the “Pulse of The Nation” infographic.