What is Big Data…

And how did it help Nate Silver, an American statistician, get a 50/50 success rate in predicting the winner of each state in the recent U.S. election?

If you are not exposed to big data systems on a regular basis you probably are not familiar with the concept behind ‘big data’. Until of late, it has been a term loitering in the background waiting for its chance to break through into the main stream and that chance could easily be now.

Large organisations have massive amounts of easily retrievable data held in containers known as databases. This data, when cleverly analysed, helps offer you items ‘you may also like’ on Amazon, Ebay or ‘friend suggestions’ on Facebook, for example.

Humanitarian causes are also making use of big data. In 2009, the U.N. launched Global Pulse – “an innovation initiative of the UN Secretary-General, harnessing today's new world of digital data and real-time analytics to gain a better understanding of changes in human well-being.” Source: http://www.unglobalpulse.org.

Looking back to the U.S. elections; Nate Silver succeeded in his predictions because they were based on the analysis of big data and in doing so, verifiably humbled the political analysts whose forecasts were comparably unreliable.

So if we bring this to our own plate, what does it mean for business?

It has been suggested that businesses could survive by relying on expert opinions, regardless of a fairly high ‘miss rate’ because all businesses behaved in this manner. But when businesses drop the veil and start heeding information driven forecasts then bad business decisions decrease in number and returns are increased. Competitors lagging behind will struggle to survive in the marketplace which, realistically, can head in only one direction now  - big data analytics.

If you are a ‘big data’ owner and want to benefit your business by making smart use of your data, then give our Consultants a call – we like nothing better than helping businesses run smarter.

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Disclaimer: The above opinions are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.