How can a small company use Big Data Analytics?
Hey, Tech Innovator – I run a 50-person IT services firm in Rockville, Maryland. At a technology innovation event recently, I heard you comment that large and small companies are starting to use Big Data Analytics. Can you give some examples, so I can figure out what we might be able to do with Big Data Analytics? ~ Penn F.
Penn, great question.
As an IT company, you have so much data available, internally and externally, it will take more than a single blog post to even scratch the surface on how you can use it to innovate. I’ll start with an example of a large company, eBay – but keep in mind, no matter what size you are, Data Analytics can completely transform the way you do business.
First, what is Big Data Analytics?
Companies have relied on structured data generated internally from their applications and other sources. Typically, this data is stored in relational databases (RDBMS), which are designed to process large amount of such structured data.
Big data deals with very large, unstructured, and complex data that it becomes difficult to work with using relational databases. This data is generated by internal as well as external sources which are beyond our control. Examples of such data are web logs, social data, data from various sensors around us, GPS, internet searches, photography, medical devices etc. Today, largely due to interconnected web of things, is producing huge volumes of data that can be analyzed to find correlations to identify trends, make business decisions, forecast demand etc.
There are several examples of how large and small companies are using Big Data lately. My hope is that, after reading their stories, you will be motivated to ask three questions about your company:
- What kind of data do we have internally?
- What kind of external data can teach us something about ourselves?
- How can we use all of this data to our advantage?
My first example of a company using Big Data Analytics is eBay. You may have read about this in Forbes Magazine: The Surprising Way eBay Used Big Data Analytics to Save Millions.
In a nutshell, eBay, which has thousands of servers, was able to improve efficiency dramatically by analyzing their own data. They started collecting terabytes of data generated by each of their hardware and network components (servers, routers, switches etc.) minute-by-minute which enabled them to analyze usage, identify gaps and problems, and reconfigure their servers. This streamlining of infrastructure saved millions in capital expenditures.
To me it’s cool that eBay used internal data that had always been available to them. They simply never knew or bothered how to look at that data until they started asking the right questions. This is an example of how a large company can take data they did not even realize was there, and use it to create a significant advantage. Another reason I liked this story because there is a lot of hype around big data for marketing and finance purposes but this is a great example of how companies can harness the power of big data across the board to gain operational efficiency.
Big Data Analytics can be used to improve operations of small companies like yours, too, Trevor. Check back soon, and I’ll share another example of how companies are innovating.
Motifworks (www.oldwebsite.motifworks.com) is a partner in emerging technology and innovation for business problem-solvers. Companies as large as Microsoft and Sears and as small as one-person start-ups rely on motifworks for lower cost, better delivery and more innovative thinking. For a partner in emerging technology and innovation, contact motifworks at firstname.lastname@example.org.