Today, you can find “news” about big data just about everywhere. It’s being talked about in print magazines, newspapers and all over the web. But, with so much news out there, how can you know if big data is right for your business, and, if so, how you should implement?
First, you need to have a working understanding of what big data is, and not the popular CliffNotes version of the definition either. We’re talking about a real, working understanding. Big data is a term used to describe technologies that allow companies to parse and catalogue datasets that are far too large to manage with conventional data gathering and mining tools.
One popular myth about big data is that it has only been around for “a couple” of years. Not so. In fact, major industries such as healthcare and entertainment have been using big data to “crack the code” for their production and marketing departments for years. So, we now have several years of a working understanding of how big data can work and a proven track record in several major industries.
What is true about big data is that many companies have just begun to take a serious look at it over the past two years. The world, we all realize, is changing. Smartphones are changing the way people use the Internet and that, in turn, is changing how people shop, how they interact and how they make the majority of their day-to-day decisions.
It’s a quantum leap forward in a short period of time, and that has many people wondering — and not a few CEOs worried. Is it too early to buy-in for their business, or, if they wait too long, will they be left behind, sacrificing market share to a more daring competitor? This conundrum is, in many ways, not unlike questions technology has forced on businesses before.
In the early days of computing, many companies wondered if they should jump on board or keep doing things the old-fashioned way. Well, we all know how that turned out.
Then, Jeff Bezos came along with an idea that became Amazon. Many companies, particularly in the publishing and entertainment industries, laughed him off the same way record companies scoffed at iTunes. Again, we all know how that turned out.
Bottom line? You will not know if big data will work for you unless you dig in, take it very seriously and do what you can to learn all you can.
David A. Steinberg is CEO of Zeta Interactive, a Customer Lifecycle Marketing platform company that integrates data, technology and marketing services. The company was named one of Forbes America’s Most Promising Companies List.