An Introduction to Big Data
Learn the basics of big data, such as what big data is, whether big data is just hype, and what tools can help you structure, manage, and store your big data.
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Companies have always relied on data to gather intelligence and make informed business decisions. Thanks to technological advancements, there are vast amounts of data emanating from the various digital sources. These huge sets of both structured and unstructured data are referred to as big data, and it's taking the world by storm.
Much of the data described as "big data" was still available to businesses years ago, but no one really saw its value — mostly due to the fact that we didn't have the computing power we currently have at our disposal, with which we can tap into the dark data hitherto thought of as useless.
What Really Is Big Data?
Gartner describes big data using the three Vs: volume, velocity, and variety. Volume denotes the large amount or volume of data being generated by the world's population at any given time. Big data that comes from digital sources travels at high speeds, so velocity denotes the speed at which the data emanates from the sources. Variety represents the unstructured nature of big data.
Some experts argue that Gartner's definition of big data is narrow, hence the addition of the fourth V: veracity. Veracity denotes the fact that businesses using big data are not sure if the data they're using is 100% reliable. In short, big data represents the massive amounts of unstructured data generated via digital media.
Why the Hype?
But why now? Why is everybody rushing to take advantage of big data at this moment? Here are some of the reasons companies are inclined towards the adoption of big data.
Decision-making. By collecting, interpreting, and analyzing big data, businesses can use the information to their benefit. For instance, it can be used to make proper decisions, thus mitigating risk.
Gain insights. With the help of semi-structured and the unstructured data, businesses can gain better insights which can propel them to financial success.
Large amounts of data and analytics. Besides the data, technology has also brought analytics that helps businesses take advantage of the big data. Real-time analytics can improve business performance greatly.
Timeliness. Both the data and the technology used to analyze it can help a business get instant insights from the data diverse sources of data.
Using Different Big Data Tools to Increase Usefulness
Big data has given businesses the ability to generate more revenue through the delivery of a better customer experience and hyper-personalized interactions in the wake of a digital transformation. But big data by itself is not of much use to any business. You need tools to collect, analyze, and organize big data if you want it to be of any use to your business. These tools save you time and money and help you uncover business insights like never before.
Tools like Apache Spark and Hadoop can help you structure, manage, and store — one of the biggest challenges associated with big data — large data sets for future use. You can use the Spark programming guide to learn how to integrate some of these tools with your systems. There are many tools out there designed to make it easier for businesses to take advantage of big data. Just select a few that you can work with and master them.
Some of the technology surrounding big data is relatively new, hence a high level of uncertainty. Proceed with caution. However, there is one undisputable fact – big data is here to stay. If you have a business, large or small, don't shy away from big data. Use it to improve customer experience and watch your business grow.
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