THE BLOG
05/30/2014 02:57 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2014

Big Data: Big HYPE?

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Today, it's impossible to browse a news site or attend an industry event without seeing or hearing the phrase "big data" tossed around as the next big thing for business - much like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) was only a few years ago. Companies across the globe are acknowledging the fact that there is a surplus of data being collected with the potential to provide invaluable business insight.

The volume of data is so large it's measured in zettabytes, and 96 percent of that data isn't easy to get to because it is behind a firewall, locked inside digital corporate vaults and buried in many data warehouses that "don't talk to each other".

The fact of the matter is big data is not new. Enterprise organizations have been working with extremely large data sets for decades, combing through the mountains of information contained within their repositories to gain insight into customers, their buying habits and demographics. When people talk about "big data," what they should really be talking about is analytics.

While most marketing efforts are retrospective, the promise of big data lies within the ability to make predictions based on it. That's what gets people excited. Once big data is analyzed, trends can be revealed, correlations can be determined and business can run more efficiently.

What's really new is the technology available that allows us to make sense of the data. Companies must be able to prioritize, organize and analyze it - both structured data (which businesses have traditionally analyzed) and unstructured data.

And since 80 percent of data is unstructured, CIOs are putting greater emphasis on unlocking its secrets. What's more, technology is helping to put structured data into context by mapping it to the vast amount of unstructured data.

To gain a deeper understanding into this topic I spoke with Lance Orsmond CEO and Founder of Mobillytics International. Every year Lance speaks with hundreds of executives from all over the world about the effective use of data within their organization.

"With all the fascination around big data you can easily get caught up in the hype and miss the wood for the trees.

This leaves a lot of companies feeling anxious about missing out. That anxiety only increases when the solution to mining the gold in your data seems to only come at a "big cost" of more and more software and hardware investments being pushed by companies.

Trouble is, big investments in big data software/hardware can leave you drowning in data, but with no insight that can drive decision making and a competitive advantage." Orsmond Says.

So true, large big data solutions often forget about the very thing that is creating the valuable data and insights they store - mobility. Customers interact with companies on the phone as well as by using their phone on-line - as well as their tablets, laptops and desktops.

Desk-bound solutions can throttle the speed of delivery of insight to decision makers at the same time that the gathering of data speeds up. Your insight might be out of date before you get back to your desk.

Think about this for a second..............

A Formula 1 car needs more than just horsepower to win the race. It's the precision in teamwork, strategy execution, fuel and tyre optimisation, driver state of mind and agile adaptation to rapidly changing conditions that make the difference.

It's easy to spend too much on "horsepower" when vendors push towards more software and hardware being the "silver bullet" to solving the "big data" puzzle.

Below Lance shares the top 4 things you should consider before making your next purchasing decision for that extra hardware/software:

1) Speed is important, so is relevance. Speed is expensive but it's a con if you don't get relevance

2) Relevance = Essence. Relevance comes from understanding the essence of your business and what is important to your customers, and creating metrics that let you know what's really happening - "looking back", "looking across" and "looking forward".

3) Insights at your Fingertips. You need key insights at your fingertips to rapidly use in decision making.

4) Take Aim at the Important. Pulling out your data rifle - not the shot-gun - to pin-point insight will help you act fast to gain the edge over your competitors