Big Data – Trends & Trajectories
Would you be taken aback if Big Data is declared as the word of the year 2014? Well, I certainly wouldn’t be. Although initially it started off as a paradigm, Big Data is permeating all facets of business at a fast pace. Digital data is everywhere and there is a tremendous wave of innovation on the ways big data can be used to generate value across sectors of the global economy.
In this blog we shall discuss few big data trends which will have immense significance in the upcoming days.
Internet of customers:
In a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum, 2014, when asked what will be important in the next 5 years, Marc Benioff, CEO of salesforce.com, elucidated on the importance of big data in enhancing and maintaining the customer base. As we talk about mobility and the internet of things, we should recognize that behind every such device is a customer. It is not an “internet of things” but an “internet of customers”.
The catchword here is “Context”. With data explosion happening in every industry, we are gathering unprecedented amount of user contexts. Big data provides tremendous opportunities to harness these contexts to gain actionable insights on consumer behavior. It doesn’t really matter if you are a B2C or a B2B company but what actually matters is how effectively you utilize the potential of big data to extract useful contextual information and use it to build a 1:1 relationship with individual customers. The companies that use this opportunity to enhance their customer base will be the most successful in the future.
Good Data > Big Data: One of the most prominent illustrations of big data in action is Google Flu Trends (GFT), which uses aggregated Google search data to monitor real-time flu cases world over. Google used specific search terms and patterns to correlate between how many people searched for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. With over 500 million google searches made every day, this may seem to be the perfect big data case study but as it turns out, GFT failed to perform as highly as it was expected to. GFT overestimated the prevalence of flu in the 2012-2013 and
2011-2012 seasons by more than 50% and also completely missed the swine flu epidemic in 2009.
This has led many analysts to sit back and retrospect on the big data strategies which caused this failure. The fallacy that a huge amount of data leads to better analysis should be recognized. Rather than taking into consideration indiscriminate and unrelated datasets which worsen the problem, the analysis premise should study data based on specific definition and aligned to the objectives. Big data methodologies can be successful, but only if they are based on accurate assumptions and are relevant.
Open Sourcing: Google never made public the criteria it used to establish the search patterns and has hence hindered further analysis on the failure. This experiment necessitates the introduction of the open source culture in big data technologies. Studies involving astounding amount of data should involve greater cooperation and transparency between participating organizations which would in turn help build robust predictive models.
Visualization/ User experience: Presenting data in an understandable and rational way is another issue concomitant with big data technologies. Softwares which help deduce insights from big complex datasets will be much in demand in the near future. Analytical business softwares with user-friendly and intuitive user interfaces will form a critical component of the sales of big data technologies.
Many technology giants have started to focus on building easy-to-use and engaging user experiences which would make them popular facilitators of big data. In one of his all-hands speeches in the second half of 2013, Jim Hagemann Snabe, Co-CEO of SAP AG, outlined SAP’s vision to change the perception that its softwares are complex and difficult to use. As far as SAP is concerned in this context, user experience is one of the focus points of SAP’s strategy and it will go a long way in helping SAP further cement its position as one of the analytics market leaders and a promising enabler of big data technologies.