What is Big Data and What Benefits Does It Provide? In the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) era, the millions of electronic devices we use every day are connected via networks (such as the Internet) to data centers that can be as small as our private web server company or as large as the impressive data processing units of governments or big technology companies, such as Google, Facebook or IBM.
This ecosystem of devices and connections generates an enormous amount of data, which requires specific processes and technologies to be analyzed. Thanks to this analysis we can draw conclusions that help us predict the behavior of our customers, prevent fraud or develop new products more in line with market demand.
Characteristics of Big Data
Large-scale data or Big Data have common characteristics that are defined as the 3 “V”.
Volume: Hundreds of thousands or millions of data are collected from various sources such as business transactions, smart devices, industrial equipment, clicks on social media posts, videos, etc.
Velocity: It is the rate at which data is received and processed, which makes it possible to take action in near real-time. You can get an idea of the technology and power of equipment necessary to receive the data, organize it, analyze it, draw conclusions and take action accordingly. An example of this would be traffic management.
Variety: Data is received from different sources and formats. In general terms, they are divided into structured (an Excel table, with the information organized in rows and columns), semi-structured (emails, PDF documents…), and unstructured (a video, for example).
Two other concepts to take into account are value (relevance of the data we receive) and truthfulness (that the information is real).
Technological advances in data processing and storage have driven the development of Big Data, lowering costs and improving processing power. Two of the most popular open-source frameworks are Apache Hadoop and, more recently, Apache Spark. These software environments process the data and analyze it, but what kind of analysis do they do?
Big Data Types of Analysis
Predictive Analytics: Known as data science or data science, predictive analytics makes a prediction about future alternatives, based on patterns found in the analyzed company data.
Prescriptive Analysis: This analysis presents the possible consequences that each action we take in our company can generate; which helps to choose the best decisions, those that will generate more and better results for the company.
Descriptive Analysis: The descriptive analysis provides information on the current situation from historical data. Therefore, this type of analysis helps to make the right decisions in real-time.
Diagnostic Analysis: It allows the results and evolution of certain actions taken previously to be measured, which makes it possible to make adjustments to the strategies applied to achieve a certain objective.
Big Data Applications
In short, Big data allows the storage, organization, and analysis of huge amounts of data, which are the raw material for a multitude of solutions applied to companies and institutions. They are the basis on which artificial intelligence, machine learning, and many other technologies that we hear about everyday work.
Data analysis can establish behavior patterns in the economy that help us predict events and, therefore, make the right financial decisions at all times. The study of the behavior of our customers, through the information we receive from different sources, will help us to understand their tastes and preferences and, therefore, to create products more in line with their interests.
The maintenance of engines and other mechanical systems has found in Big Data an efficient way to predict what types of breakdowns the equipment experiences and when we can expect them to occur. The massive study of data helps identifies patterns that may be indicative of fraud, which is essential to combat cybercrime. These are just some examples of the possibilities that Big Data offers us.
This technology is not yet easily accessible to all types and sizes of companies, but over time it will be a tool that we all use, as professionals and companies of all kinds. And it will come sooner than we think.
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