What Is Big Data? And Why Is It Not A New Concept?
What are Big Data and what does it have to do with social media? The answer lies in the fact that more businesses, both large and small, are realizing the potential that this new technology provides them. Now, instead of gathering data used to analyze the business and its customers, the business can leverage the massive amounts of data that are available today. This means that the company does not have to spend weeks or months sending requests to obtain such data, but can now analyze unstructured data using a variety of tools and techniques. In short, this means that Big Data is revolutionizing the way businesses conduct business.
The buzz around the Big Data concept centers around two main sources including financial and mobile industries. Financial industries such as banks and financial institutions are adopting semi-structured unstructured data management systems. These sources include customer and sector-based information sources which are considered to be quite rich in terms of the data types and formats they provide. However, this type of system still requires manual queries to extract key performance indicators and other related information from the collected data.
Mobile industry on the other hand is focusing its attention on big data analytics using social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter. These sources, among others, allow companies to monitor their customers, clients and competitors. For banks however, the biggest advantage they get from using social media is the ability to leverage their customer relations management system or CRM for engaging customers on a more personal level. This personal interaction is important for building trust between the customer and the bank and helps improve customer retention and loyalty. In effect, the banking industry can greatly benefit from the use of semi-structured data sets such as those found in financial and mobile sources.
What is the difference between what is termed as large volume social media and what is termed as semi-structured big data? Large volume social media sources tend to comprise a great number of sources that can be accessed by queries on a single platform. While this may sound like a good thing, it comes with the inherent limitation of having to manage and analyze these data sets manually. Also, with the volume of users and the variety of sources, analyzing the information manually becomes difficult and time-consuming.
On the other hand, semi-structured big data concepts refer to tools that help manage and analyze large volume data sets via different online services. One such example is Hadoop, an open source system for managing large amount of data on a clustered large-scale. Hadoop has several applications that include Map Reduce Function that enables users to reduce large data sets into smaller sets while Map Reduce Function also helps in managing the terabytes of data that need to be stored. Map Reduce Function allows users to reduce redundancy by keeping only the essential nodes in the cluster. By keeping only the necessary nodes, users can also ensure quick and consistent performance of the Hadoop applications.
Another example of a big data concept that is nothing new is NoSQL or No SQL. This term refers to a relational database management system that is different from traditional database management systems in the sense that it provides a much flexible and dynamic model that can scale up and down depending upon the current demand for data volumes. However, despite its great potential and wide application, there are certain limitations of this big data concept. Most importantly, it requires extensive training to manage it. Since it involves complex interactions between the data sources and databases, expertise is a prerequisite.
In contrast, unstructured data volume is what is known as ‘big data’. By definition, unstructured data volume means that there is no requirement for any form of management or oversight over the storage and access of this data. Rather than being something new, it is something old. As it is not subject to any form of human management, it is also much more vague and potentially dangerous. The risks associated with unstructured big data volumes include everything from data security breaches to compliance breaches to denial of service attacks – all of which are extremely serious and can have dire consequences.
It is important to note that even though the big data concept has emerged and become a force to be reckoned with in today’s enterprise IT world, the fact remains that it is just a concept. It still faces many inherent limitations and the issues highlighted above remain to be resolved. Only through good usage of the technology will it be able to take on a life of its own and truly revolutionize how business is conducted.