The Challenges Of Big Data
The amount of time the average person is connected has been constantly increasing. More devices are becoming Internet enabled every year, from TVs to alarm clocks, expanding the Internet of Things (IoT) at an ever-increasing rate. The refinement of apps, tech and improved accessibility has all contributed towards a trend of accessing services using mobile devices. There are ‘Mobile Only’ services established or popping up in many sectors, from financial services to music.
The more time we spend connected, whether through a social media resource, a game, or searching the Internet for information, the bigger the data trail left in our wake. Big companies store and try to interpret this data obsessively. Some have been more successful than others in leveraging genuine value from the data. Regardless of their level of success so far, they all face the same challenges.
Big data is not only ‘Big’ in size, but also in breadth, and arriving at an ever-increasing frequency. Many sources are predicting its exponential growth is set to continue and could be over 10 times the current size by 2020.
Interpreting The Data
All that data is useless unless a company can turn the information into actionable knowledge. To effectively do this they need a system that can extract just the relevant parts for any given purpose. Once extracted it needs to be reported and analysed in a suitable way. This requires hiring talent that can accurately interpret the data in a way that’s useful to the company.
To effectively do this requires employees with a wide range of hard and soft skills. Unfortunately there aren’t enough qualified professionals to go around, making it hard for many companies to find or keep suitable personnel.
The IoT is creating new data at an alarming rate, and poses a different set of challenges for interpretation. While many acknowledge the endless opportunities it could create, the pitfalls are also numerous and not yet fully understood. This could require a completely different set of skills and open up a whole new area of recruitment.
Because this is a constant learning curve for some companies, they also need a platform that can aggregate different data sets in a meaningful way, and adapt quickly as their needs change. Connecting, harmonising and governing the new and the old accurately is no small challenge. Current estimates put the annual coats of ‘bad data’ to US businesses in the region $600 billion dollars, and growing.
The rate at which data is flowing into companies is astonishing. They are well into units of measurement the average person has never heard of. This makes storage a huge challenge. The problems are greater than simply having the digital real estate to shove it all, as this data is going to need to be retrievable for it to be useful. The data coming in is also coming from multiple sources and in a variety of formats.
Creating a storage infrastructure that caters to all the needs in a secure way, while being sufficient to handle the demands of the future is a challenge companies are constantly addressing.
Naturally people can get a little annoyed if any of their personal information falls into the hands of an unknown person or entity. The risks posed by big data are much more serious, presuming whoever gets access to it is able to interpret it effectively. Security isn’t just a key issue on a corporate performance level, but also with respect to individuals. Initiatives such as GDPR (Overview of the General Data Protection Regulation) forcing compliance, however necessary, will generate complexity and increased costs.
For some companies data protection concerns prove a major obstacle in their attempts to use the data in the way they’d like. Up until now most security measures taken by companies have proven insufficient in some way. With the increasing number of connected devices their company networks are becoming exposed in ways they haven’t encountered before, and may not yet even be fully aware of.
The companies that seem to have been the most successful in making use of their data are already tech based. It’s a fast-paced environment, and companies that are naturally moving with the market will find it a lot easier than a company who is reliant on updates and new technologies from a technology provider. Big data is the fuel for areas of current focus, such as predictive and prescriptive analytics, machine learning and the focus on real-time analysis.
Generating A Return On Your Investment
So you’ve gathered all the data. You can store it securely. You adhere to regulatory restrictions of how, where and why you are holding that data. You can access it effectively and interpret it accurately. Great. Where’s the value? The truth is the value in the data is constantly evolving. The obvious example is targeted advertising. Companies can also use the data to improve their customer service, drive product development, and even change the direction the company is heading.
Many new business models have tried to leverage data in new ways, but it’s an evolving practice, and we can expect it to continue to develop for quite a while yet. Some companies have used big data extremely effectively, but even they are potentially just scratching the surface, and it will be many years before the same level of insight is available to everyone.
Big data analysed correctly can be a complete game changer. To companies, marketers and governments we go from being a vague demographic to a largely predictable individual. This sort of knowledge gives advertisers, or institutions trying to convey a message, a road map to the people they should target. This doesn’t just make a company more effective, but greatly increases their power within the marketplace.
The impact big data will have on our lives is still unknown. One thing we can say with near absolute confidence, corporations will keep tirelessly developing, innovating and experimenting with big data. If you’re worried about falling behind, or are undecided if this will even affect you, then you can e-mail, call or fill out our contact form. We’re always ready to help and would be happy to chat about your situation.