Data is, by itself, just a mass of zeros and ones that is displayed to us by a computer or in some other form. Data by itself is not very useful - it is what we do with it that makes a difference to our business.
Small companies can get away with using data in an informal fashion, but for bigger businesses this will not work. Companies such as Wal-Mart, which has a massive number of stores, can collect 2.5 petabyte of data per hour. Good analytics tools are a must to allow people to make sense of that data.
The Technical Challenge Old-fashioned technologies such as flat-file databases or even MySQL are simply not up to the task of tracking the sheer number of transactions that bigger businesses perform or the number of customers that they have. Big data analytics is increasingly relying on new technologies such as Hadoop, MapReduce and NoSQL in order to empower business owners to produce maximum profits.
Big data analysis is increasingly becoming accessible to even the smallest of companies. We are moving towards the ‘Analytics 3.0’ era, where anyone can take advantage of analytics and can use free services to process their data in the cloud with no need to spend a lot of money on software, servers, training or programmers. Analytics 3.0 is improving the workflow of numerous companies and making it possible for them to profile and understand their customers on a whole new level.
We are in the middle of a paradigm shift regarding how we work with information and what we consider to be a ‘product’. You may have heard the idea that if a company is giving something to you for free, it’s because you’re the product - and that’s true. Social media, free hosting and even free online courses all collect information about the people who use them, and that information can be sold on or used to market other products.
Thanks to multi-channel analytics such as Google’s sophisticated location tracking, which can identify things like how often an online ad inspires an in-store visit, we can now analyse our marketing campaigns on a whole new level. Your customers don’t think of your website, store and social media pages as being separate things, so you should not either. See the bigger picture, and you’ll find it much easier to acquire and retain customers.