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The Big Benefits of Big Data


Big data is either a problem or an opportunity. Which of the two it is depends largely on how it is managed. The problem of big data is exactly that; it’s big. Estimated data volume on the Internet exceeds 4 zettabytes (1 ZB = 1 billion TB). This volume is almost incomprehensible; but in an age when 8 years worth of video is uploaded to YouTube every day, 2 million Google searches occur every minute, and more data crosses the Internet every second than existed on it 20 years ago, it is an idea we must quickly come to terms with.


Ten years ago your local pizza shop would be lucky to know your name. Now with on-line ordering, it can know your name, address, age, average spend, toppings & drinks preference, ordering frequency, even which allergies you have. The contrast in data volume is stark.

The potential volume of data that even a small business can generate is overwhelming when it does not know what to do with it. A business that intends to survive in the digital age however, cannot afford to view big data as a problem. In order to succeed at this, it needs the right tools to manage it. Daniel Keys Moran said it most succinctly: “You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.”


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                                                                           Figure – Converting Data into Information


The challenge and the opportunity that exists with big data is leveraging that volume of data and converting it into valuable, insightful and actionable information. Today’s consumers are better informed than ever before, and a business unable to react quickly and effectively to changing consumer demands will be at a distinct disadvantage to its competition.



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SAP HANA (High-performance Analytic Appliance) is such a tool, and offers real-time analysis of incoming data and presents it to the end-user in an easily understandable format. It is a tool which will enable your local pizza shop to predict when you might be ordering your next pepperoni with cheese, but also enables Amazon to manage its on-line stock inventory in real-time whilst telling you what other customers who bought what you just did also purchased.


It is used by retail banks to display your real-time account balance so you can walk out of one store and know exactly how much you can spend in the next one (as well as how much you just spent and where). At the same time it can analyse your spending habits, credit rating, income streams, debt level and life stage to help your bank decide which credit card to offer you, and when.


In 2012 the US National Basketball Association (NBA) used HANA to re-launch its statistics webpage.  NBA Vice President of IT Ken DeGennaro said “The NBA has always had a great archive of statistics” and that the NBA “wanted to create a destination for our fans with a definitive tool to access this rich history of NBA statistics”. The resulting website is an impressive statistical experience which allows fans to manipulate data from 1946 to now, in any way they want, and answer any league related question they can think of. All presented in an easily viewable format. The benefit for the NBA? More clicks, longer visits, and more engaged and satisfied fans.

Every McLaren F1 car carries about 120 sensors on-board that monitor every aspect of its performance. In a sport where hundredths of a second often mean the difference between victory and defeat, split-second real-time access to relevant information is crucial to success. Utilizing incoming data streams from the car’s sensors, as well as track temperature, wind speed, humidity, laps driven, even competitor behaviour, it displays real-time data analysis to race engineers and team principals that enables them to make the split-second decisions that determine their race results.


Whether big data is viewed by a business as a problem or an opportunity will depend on how it approaches this challenge, and how it chooses to manage and utilize its data. No business can afford to find itself drowning in a sea of meaningless data. SAP HANA’s Big Data Analytics in real time in conjunction with Hadoop batch data processing provides businesses with the ability to harness the power of big data and convert it into valuable and insightful information in a way not previously possible. Given the right set of tools, a business can manage and manipulate vast volumes of data, enabling it to react quickly, operate efficiently, meaningfully engage with its customers, and drive profitability. How a business approaches the challenge presented by big data can mean the difference between stagnation and growth, and survival versus extinction.

As postgraduate students studying ERP Applications (BCO6181) at Victoria University, our lecturer and mentor Tony De Thomasis steered us towards writing a blog. Our special thanks, goes to Paul Hawking, SAP mentor who has also indirectly inspired us on choosing this topic. We were lucky to have a guest session with Sascha Wenninger, who gave us an amazing insight on new trends of ‘Big Data’ and ‘Cloud’.  We extend special thanks to our guest speakers Marilyn Pratt, John Astill and Graham Robinson, who took out time from their busy schedule to share their knowledge and life experiences with us.


Written by: Neemisha Chechi, Micheal Owen, Gaurav Khanchi, Rebecca Ahmed and Tariq Yussouf (Victoria University – BCO6181 ERP Applications)

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