In the content management industry, the term “big data” has been thrown around a lot lately. Big data isn’t an email full of Grumpy Cat JPEGs that clogs up your inbox, though you might wish it were. Big data is the massive amount of information that is stored on our servers, downloaded by our computers, and shared by email. Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion (18 zeros!) bytes of data. Everything creates data- the cash register at McDonald’s, your I-PASS, weather radars, and this blog. In fact, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past two years. With so much data available to us, how do we separate the useful from the fluff?
The big data created by today’s digitized marketplace has four distinct characteristics as identified by IBM: volume, variety, velocity, and veracity. Volume refers to the massive scale of data- terabytes to petabytes. Data can present in a variety of forms- structured, unstructured, text, or multimedia. The velocity of big data is rapid, enabling decisions within fractions of a second. Finally, data reliability and predictability can vary, so users must be aware of the data’s veracity.
In years past, the strategic planning process involved asking definitive questions with concrete answers like “Did we meet our sales goals last quarter?” Data was input, results were exported, and sales figures told you what you needed to know (or so you thought). If you didn’t know which questions to ask or if you were trying to discover tangential issues, you were out of luck. Used correctly, big data can change the conversation by allowing users to ask bigger questions that get to the heart of the issue like “Why didn’t we meet our sales goals last quarter?” This knowledge can create a competitive advantage. In a survey of 1,000 professionals across 25 industries, 15% of organizations that actively used big data reported a competitive advantage. (Analytics: The Real-world Use of Big Data)
Big data is also being used to improve the customer experience. Social media allows customers to speak their minds and interact directly with companies. This information helps companies understand their customers’ behaviors and preferences. Approximately 49% of big data objectives are focused on customer-centric outcomes.
If your company wants to start using big data, here are steps for adoption:
So, how do you get a handle on big data? One way is to invest in a document management system. Document (or content) management systems streamline data and workflow so the right people have easy access to the information they need when they need it. The system indexes, searches, and retrieves your data so you don’t have to waste time sifting through information you don’t need. This allows you to focus on what’s important- creating high-quality content for your business. Big data can be intimidating, but a proper management system can create huge opportunities for insightful strategic planning and enhanced customer experience.
How is your company utilizing big data?