What You Need To Know About Big Data

What's the big deal?

by Jason Falls |

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.


About the Author

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).