Big data is revolutionizing many industries, from retail to real estate. However, big data alone is not a magical solution to business problems. Users of big data need to use the right approach to analyzing large volumes of data in order to maximize the benefits that this technology can offer.
Although business gurus often emphasize the importance of setting clear goals, becoming too focused on a particular outcome can mean that you miss out on many of the insights that big data has to offer. Writing in Forbes in September 2014, data management expert Adrian Bridgwater recommends keeping an open mind when approaching big data. The amount and types of data that can be gathered are growing all the time. Restricting your focus to very particular questions can mean that you lose out on some valuable information.
Highly effective big data users look for original trends in their data. Trends that nobody else has noticed are often the most valuable. Use big data analysis to look for trends that are surprising, and then investigate them further to gain insight that could be valuable to your business.
Various tools exist for handling big data. These range from open-source platforms and programming languages to proprietary packages that are tightly controlled by their creators. Bridgwater advocates using open-source software and languages to handle data. He describes the highly effective big data user as being "open to openness" and cites the benefits that can come from using open-source tools and platforms that are continually being developed by their users.
Some data can be gathered and analyzed at your leisure, while other types quickly lose their value. For example, retailers can use information about customers' recent purchases and recent browsing histories to recommend products that meet the customers' current needs. Timing these recommendations correctly is crucial to closing a sale. Leave it too long to analyze the data and make a recommendation, and customers will have moved on. On the other hand, a retailer that ties information already held about a customer to real-time mobile location data that shows when a customer has entered a store can offer that customer a personalized promotion while they are still in the store, maximizing the possibility of making an instant sale.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of big data. This rapidly developing technology has already found many applications, from helping doctors make the right healthcare decisions for their patients to allowing hygiene companies to track exactly how quickly customers in fast food restaurants use up supplies of soap, paper towels and air freshener. Don't assume that any problem is too big or too small to benefit from big data analysis.
By adopting the habits listed above, you can become a highly effective big data user. As a result, you can begin to harvest the benefits that big data can provide for your business.
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