How Big Is Big Data? An Inside Look at It
Have you ever wondered how big big data is? Or did you ever think what big data is used for? Well, if you answered no to these questions then we have to disappoint you. Big data is a part of our daily lives and not knowing how and why it works is affecting you quite adversely.
Data is the king in this age of digitization and the internet. But what exactly is data? Well, data is simply information; information that has expanded exponentially by the time you have finished reading this sentence.
Why Everyone Should Care About Big Data?
So why you should care about big data? You watch many videos and visit multiple websites and blogs on your computer or smartphone on a daily basis, and each of these actions adds more data on your profile in somebody’s database. This information will be then used to target you for ads or political campaigns or simply predict what people like you would do in the future. All of this data will have an effect on your future, it might help you get to a job interview or it will make you go to jail.
So how big is big data considering how much data a simple person like you creates on a daily basis? Now, remember that there are millions of people like you in the world. In 2008, Google was processing 20,000 terabytes of data every day. In 2018, Walmart has collected 2,500 terabytes data on its customers per day. So although the size of big data does matter, there’s a lot more to it. Firstly, big data has many dimensions and it’s diverse. What this means is that you can collect data to get a multidimensional picture of the case you’re investigating. Second, big data is automatic which implies that whatever we do, we automatically generate new data. You don’t have to use a search engine to create new data. Simply walking around caring your smartphone create data.
What is big data used for? For everything! Data is a powerful tool that tracks all of us. You most definitely want to care about data and be careful when creating new information about yourself in the huge database. Also, you can use the available data for your own good. Whether you are a simple individual, a business or any other enterprise or institution, you can and should use the power of data. But there are some challenges associated with bid data, so be cautious not to get lost in unreliable, outdated, and invalid data.
Who’s Leveraging Big Data?
The biggest data users today are the ones who want to grow their business. The competitive nature of the 21st century makes it very hard, and even impossible for some industries, to grow and be a leader. Companies strive to be leaders, to be innovative, to satisfy and excite customers with their solutions, and to offer something fresh to the market. But needless to say that it’s a tough and difficult task. The competition is fierce in almost every field, so unless you come up with something innovative, there are almost zero chances of success. However, even in the field of innovation, it can be hard to be successful because it’s hard to find a pain point of the customer that hasn’t been addressed yet.
But don’t rush to be hopeless or get a panic attack. There’s a great solution for businesses who want to succeed and the solution is called big data. How exactly big data can help? There are several things you need to understand the importance of data. Data is a raw information source that can be used for multiple things. Considering how big big data is, just think about how much useful and valuable information you can find in the database. And how you can analyze this data to understand the current state of things and make precise predictions for the future. You can collect customer profiles, analyzes preferences, find a niche, predict the demand and supply, avoid shortages, get insights to new innovative solutions and so much more.
To make the above statements more convincing, let’s consider the example of Netflix. Netflix is a streaming giant and big data has helped them a lot in achieving this title. They have over 100 million subscribers, who provide them with data to analyze and improve the user experience. Big data helps Netflix predict which programs would be of most interest to the user, and the recommendation system on their website influences around 80% of the content that people end up watching. Back in 2009, Netflix even gave a $1 million award to a group who came up with the best algorithms for predicting how users will like a program based on the previous ratings. Despite the huge monetary prize they gave away, these new algorithms helped Netflix save $1 billion a year in value from customer retention.
Industries That Use Big Data
Now let’s go through some industries that actively use big data for growth and success.
Finance companies use big data to scrape valuable financial data from the web. There are a lot of sources of financial data on the internet, such as Yahoo! Finance, Google Finance, or CNNMoney. These websites are a good database of data. Investors use financial data to reduce their risks of failure by making smart, well-thought and data-driven decisions. Risk analysis firms also use financial data. They work closely with data to analyze all the potential risks involved and help clients to make risk-free decisions.
As for the banks, they have direct access to the repository of customer financial data. They know exactly how much salary is credited to your account, how much goes to your savings, how much you spend on utility service, etc. This data is used for further decisions of screening loans, risk assessment, or cross-selling of products like insurance.
- Online Retail
Online retailers also leverage the power of big data. Let’s look into how Amazon uses big data, as Amazon is the absolute leader of the industry. First thing first, Amazon’s website algorithms track the journey of customers from product discovery at the very beginning up to the delivery or return stage. Algorithms collect data on how website users interact with various elements of the site and this data is used to run tests and improve UI/UX of the website.
Amazon refines the website for two types of users: buyers and sellers. For customers, the algorithms work in a way to suggest the most relevant products or sellers. For sellers, Amazon provides them with relevant data and metrics that can guide their operations and improve optimization processes. The high-quality service and good satisfaction rates bring in more Prime members to the website and help Amazon keep up with the billion worth reputation.
- Business Analytics
A business analyst is in desperate need for data. As we’ve mentioned before, data is simply a piece of raw information. However, it can become a great source of value once analyzed for relevant business needs. Data analysts use big data for analytics. Data can help them with predictive analysis. Predictive analysis is a combination of statistics, machine learning, and pattern recognition, and its main target is the prediction of future probabilities and trends. With the help of big data and web scraping, you can create predictive models that will guide your future steps.
Big data can be especially useful in marketing for lead generation purposes. Marketers can use data available on the web to look for potential customers and turn them into actual customers. When a person discovers your business by visiting one of your marketing channels, he/she then clicks on one of your CTAs which takes them to a landing page. This is where the marketer captures lead information in an exchange for an offer. This is how your profile’s data helps marketers generate leads and grow the customer base.
The healthcare industry has also been revolutionized by big data. Before, all the medical records of patients, such as information about their diseases or medical prescriptions, were kept in one place. The big data technology has changed the way how historical records of patients are kept. The healthcare industry can now ensure holistic care to patients. Personalized approach to patients is improved along with the levels of patient care. The new technology analyzes the trends in healthcare among hospitals. All of these improves the healthcare standards and optimizes the overall efficiency of the industry.
Schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions have a lot of data available about the students, faculty, and staff. A proper analysis of this data can give a lot of insights to improve the operational effectiveness of these institutions. A statistical analysis of exam results, student behavior, etc. can enhance the development of each student and the educational needs based on changing educational requirements. Big data will help to create new and more exciting learning ways. The digitization of classrooms has already had a huge impact on the education style (e.g. video-based lectures).
Big Data also helps the agricultural industry. Farmers can use data in yield predictions and for deciding what to plant and where to plant. Risk management is one of the ways big data is used in agriculture. It helps farmers evaluate the chances of crop failure and, thereby, improve feed efficiency. Big data technology also can diminish the chances of crop damage by predicting weather conditions.
Challenges Associated with Big Data
Big data has challenges that we need to face. Considering how much data there’s available on the web, we need to understand that not all of that data is good data. Before you get excited to use big data and get ahead of all your competitors, take into consideration that big data involves hard work. You need to be able to sort out good data from bad data. Relying on bad data for your decisions will lead to a huge fail. When you get data, you need to check it for the following criteria
- Is it valid? Validity is an indication of how sound your research is and implies to both the design and the methods of your research. So make sure that the information you found represents the phenomenon you claim to measure.
- Is it reliable? The data you base your analysis upon must be authentic and reliable. Make sure that it comes from a reliable source and not a fraud.
- Is it meaningful? Is the data you’re using meaningful? You need to have a criterion to measure how meaningful your data is. Don’t use data that comes from a reliable source, but doesn’t carry any value.
- Is it up-to-date? From all the challenges associated with big data, this one is probably the hardest one to spot. In this fast-changing world, any data can get outdated very fast. So you need to be cautious not to rely on an outdated piece of information.
Now that you know what is big data used for, you must surely understand how much value it can bring you. Don’t let the challenges discussed above keep you back. You can choose to work with a web scraping service which will ensure that you get only high-quality data and which will get rid of the headache of working with so much data. So pull yourself together and get ready to conquer the world with the power of big data!