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Friday, February 17, 2012

Big Data?

There is a lot of talk about big data and data science. With increasing abundance of structured and unstructured data, many praise the possibilities of analysing terabytes of data. But as nice as some of the visualisations might look like, the question is how businesses can use the new tools and data to make money. Is big data always better than old/small data?

I work with many businesses that have a lot of data but don’t have the time to look at all the information they have and could have. Before you extend your database, have a think about what more you can do with existing data. Integration is the key, there is no benefit to have half a dozen unlinked databases coming up with different answers.

Data collection needs to be improved. Before you commission a new database, think how you can track more behaviour about customers in your existing database.

Many new start ups focus on collecting huge databases hoping that clients will be amazed by the richness of the data. But this is only for clients who know how to use data. Not many businesses know how.
Facebook has probably the biggest ‘customer’ database in the world but almost all their money is made from display banners, which have been around since 1993.

Census is better than sample but true data makes a change; sometimes the tracking of a simple statistic (everyone understands) can make all the difference.


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