What You Need To Know About Big Data

by · December 12, 20123 comments

Chances are, you’re not a data analyst for the federal government, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, AT&T, NASA or Google. Provided my guess is right, here’s what you need to know about Big Data: Nothing. Ignore it. It won’t effect you … at least in your job.

Still, around every corner is another businesstech or social prognosticator saying that Big Data is the next big thing. Certainly, for international retailers needing to understand META trends in purchase behavior and governments (from local to Federal) around the world trying to understand infrastructure issues like transportation surface decay and crime rate fluctuations, Big Data is important. To think it isn’t would be ignorant. But for 99.9% of all professionals, especially marketers, Big Data is an infuriating waste of brain power. Don’t try to understand it or solve it or see how it applies to your business. It won’t.

That said, let’s understand what Big Data is and see why I’d make such a claim.

Big Data is any set of information that is far too large to be analyzed, managed, stored, displayed or computed by standard database management tools. For example, Wal-Mart records around one million transactions per hour globally. Understanding trends and insights from their daily transaction data is taxing on even advanced computers and database tools. Handling that analysis is probably pretty challenging, even if just from a server space perspective.

Frankly, in most cases, Wal-Mart would be better off focusing on the data from each individual store. It might give them insights that produce a much more local understanding and feel for their customers. So Big Data may be a fine sliver of the time they spend understanding their customers.

Since 99% of businesses are under 100 employees and $100 MM in revenue, we can conclude that very few are dealing with customer information in that stratosphere. So, we’re talking about a very small number of marketing professionals that need to understand Big Data.

But when I make these types of claims, people come out of the woodwork to prove me wrong. So? The comments are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://twitter.com/wes_ward Wes

    You’re right Jason for your target market, it is irrelevant.
    The reality is Big Data exists mainly because of duplicated or related data gets created.  IBM have said nearly 75% of Big Data is duped or related data.  So the volume is big because the IT systems are poor and inefficient.  But that is a discussion for another day :)

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  • Professional Copywriting

    For most businesses, Big Data is going to be of
    limited value. All of the online buzz around Big Data has been generated
    because we are finally learning how to handle it. It will certainly provide
    some interesting insights into consumer behavior but generally isn’t going to produce any silver
    bullet solutions to small businesses that want to improve their online
    marketing efforts.