<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=290086984736480&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
word-map-thumb

The Alternative Board Blog

Reading UP: Big Data

Apr. 22, 2013 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think by Mayer-Schonberger & Cukier has generated a lot of buzz. Is this something you should care about, or even be worried about? Let’s start with some background.

Here are some of the more interesting Big Data findings presented in this book:

Google can now do a better job of predicting a flu epidemic than the CDC.

- A traffic analyzer program was able to predict a sharp spike in unemployment prior to the government reporting it based on lower volumes of traffic.

- Happiness is correlated with income up to a certain point, and then additional income does not create additional happiness.

Apple received a patent in 2009 for their earbuds specifically for collecting data on heart rate & body temperature.

Perhaps these are interesting, but how can this help your business? Consider these:

UPS was able to reduce its vehicle maintenance cost by millions by being able to delay certain preventative maintenance based on analyzing extensive amounts of vehicle failure data.

Target knows when its female customers are pregnant; and they are pretty good at pinpointing the due date. They generate business by targeting the right coupons throughout the phases of the pregnancy.

Walmart knows that before hurricanes strike, customers purchase lots of flashlights -  and pop tarts. So they stock lots of pop tarts before a big storm.
Big Data Imagined
 
Big Data has been made possible based on the plethora of data available through the information age & also the cheap availability of processing power & storage to analyze and store all that information. Here are some key things to know about Big Data vs. Small Data (the data/analysis available in the past):

- Big Data is based on analyzing (virtually) all the data. Small Data was based on sampling much smaller data sets.

Want additional insight? Download Hiring a Business Coach for Your Small Business now 

DOWNLOAD

- Big Data is concerned with answering the what (correlation) but not the why (causality). This is a very significant point. The authors argue that knowing the what is for the most part all that you really need to know. Sometimes knowing the why is critically important - therefore Big Data is not always the right approach.

- Small Data involves having a theory before you started to analyze the data. Big Data lets "the data speak". This is among the most important points. Algorithms will run on the data and reveal answers to questions that you didn't think to ask. As Duncan Watts wrote, everything is obvious once you know the answer.

So should you care about this? Absolutely! Consider Google vs. Microsoft. Microsoft has the best spell checker in the world, right? In fact, Google does. With the most popular word processor on the planet for many years, you would expect that Microsoft was able to develop the best spell check algorithms. But they did not base it on Big Data. Google did. They collected every misspelled word that users entered. They applied Big Data processing on this data. Now, Google has the best spell checker on the planet.

What can you do? Think about what data you have - good and bad. Assemble your key staff and brainstorm on business innovations that you might be able to make based on your data. You might be able to dramatically improve your service levels. You might find an opportunity to launch a new product or service that will solve a recurring need for your clients. Or, you may be sitting on a gold mine of data and can use it to enter a new industry altogether. It's not easy. The analysis requires specialized expertise. But, this revolution is here to stay. You should start to think of your data as a strategic part of your business.

Related articles

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board

DOWNLOAD

Written by The Alternative Board Worldwide

Related posts

How to Manage Your Mobile Workforce

Jul. 16, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
The American workforce is changing the nature of “work” as we once knew it. The days when employees absolutely had to work at a desk, in an office, are long gone. While many businesses still insist...

CEOs Save Time by Learning to Say “No”

Jul. 2, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
  Learn to Say No!    How many times in a day do people approach you or your gatekeeper with a request, suggestion or some other time-consuming appeal? Like many other business leaders, your first...

Save Time with Fewer (and More Productive) Meetings

Jul. 2, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
For most companies, there’s no way around having meetings as a way to conduct day-to-day business. At the same time, it’s hard to find any CEO or business owner who doesn’t experience frustration at...

Differentiating Between “Urgent” and “Important” Saves You Time

Jun. 29, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
Urgent? Or important? Take a moment to look back on what you did today in your role as business owner or CEO. How much time was spent reacting to an urgent issue or crisis someone brought to you,...

A Quick Guide to More Efficient CEO Time Management

Jun. 27, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
Most CEOs and business leaders understand on a gut level that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. They also know that time, (and the management of their time!), probably the...

The Right Feedback Can Boost Employee Retention

May. 29, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
Among the many skills a CEO or business owner should possess is the ability to provide constructive, meaningful feedback. Employees at every level of an organization want to do the best job possible,...

6 Tips on Turning Great Employees into Outstanding Leaders

May. 29, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
The current job market is so tight and competitive, why make it any more difficult to recruit and retain the right people for your company? Too many businesses focus on getting bodies into open...

A Guide to Marketing Your Specialized Business

May. 29, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
  Specialized businesses have their own marketing opportunities and challenges. Also known as niche marketing, the focus is on connecting with a specific, targeted audience and communicating the...

Is “Emotional Marketing” the Best Way to Connect with Customers?

Apr. 24, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
According to the Small Business Association, “All humans feel four basic emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted.” Of course, no business wants to spur feelings of disgust or...

5 Tips for Monitoring Your Competitor’s Marketing Strategy

Apr. 23, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
 No matter how unique their product or service, every business has a competitor (or more than one). This is probably a good thing because it means no CEO or business owner can become complacent or...