Big Data Analytics Defines Top Performers

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Big Data has become the latest rage, and a survey by the IBM Center for Applied Insights shows why. Organizations that make extensive use of data analytics experienced up to 1.6x the revenue growth, 2.0x EBITDA growth, and a 2.5x stock price appreciation compared to their peers. And what they are analyzing is Big Data, a combination of structured data found in conventional relational databases and unstructured data pouring in from widely varied sources.

How big is Big Data? By 2015 the digital universe, as forecast by IDC, will hit 8 zettabytes (ZB). (1ZB = 1021 bytes, one sextillion bytes). Adding to the sheer volume is the remarkable velocity at which data is created. Every minute 600 new blog posts are published and 34,000 Twitter tweets are sent. If some of that data is about your organization, brand, products, customers, competitors, or employees would you want to know?

This isn't just for large organizations. Midsize and small businesses can benefit from Big Data too. A small pizza shop chain needs to know the consumer buzz about its pizza as much as Domino's. Vendors are rushing out products to make Big Data analytics even easier.

Big data involves both structured and unstructured data. The data comes from a variety of sources. Traditional business applications contain predominantly structured data. Unstructured data comes from general files; from smart phones and mobile devices; from social media like Twitter, Facebook, and others; from RFID tags and other sensors and meters; and even from video cameras. All can be valuable to organizations in various contexts.

You need appropriate tools and technology to leverage Big Data. Earlier this month, IBM introduced three task-specific Smarter Analytics Signature Solutions. The first addresses anti-fraud, waste, and abuse by using sophisticated analytics to recommend the most effective remedy for each case. For example it might recommend a different letter requesting payment in one case but suggest a full investigation be opened in another.

Another Signature Solution focuses on next-best-action. This uses real-time analytics across various data to predict customer behavior and preferences. It then recommends the next best action to take with regard to a customer, actions to reduce churn or sell more.

The third Signature Solution, dubbed CFO Performance Insight, works on a collection of complex and cross-referenced internal and external data sets and applies sophisticated analytics to achieve increased understanding, visibility, and control over financial performance along with predictive insights, root-cause analyses, and more. These are delivered via an executive-style dashboard.

IBM isn't the only IT player to jump on the Big Data bandwagon. EMC has put a stake into this market. Oracle, which has been stalking IBM for years, also latched onto Big Data through Exalytics, its in-memory analytics product similar to IBM's Netezza. Of course, small players like Cloudera, which early on staked out Hadoop, the key open source component of Big Data, also offer related products and services.

Big Data analytics will continue as an important issue for some years to come. Don't be surprised to see wiredFINANCE return to it time and again.

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