On the road to Big Data

Everyone talks about Big Data, and many are put off by the “Big Hype”. That reminds me of an old Hamburger advertisement, where an elderly lady asks the magic question “Where is the beef?”. “Magic” since the phrase immediately caught on and conquered a fixed place in the English language. It even played a decisive role in politics the same year the ad appeared.

So where is the beef in Big Data?

Let’s be practical and not start by defining “Big Data”. If it’s big and varied enough to cause you problems in dealing with it, and if it may be relevant for your business: take it as Big Data.

Is there value in Big Data? As usual: it depends.

It depends on what data you have collected, on who asks the question, when and in what context. Not every collection of data will make you rich – and not every tool to plough through it in quest of value.

Here is one truth about Big Data: it isn’t structured! About 80% of it is text, i.e. unstructured, i.e. outside the grasp of enterprise applications (ERP, CRM, BI, etc.).

To make business sense of this textual data, your tools must be able to analyze texts in many different languages – and not just look at the meta data or search for keywords.

Value creation from Big Data depends, of course, on the business context of each customer. We have seen ROI in the range from 10 M to 60 M$ per year in use cases centered on creating 360° views of customers – in Retail Banking and in call centers of Mobile Telecoms providers.

For more information, see the presentation “Big Data: “Where is the Beef”? Drilling through the hype to get real value.” (Downloadable here)

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