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What Is Big Data? By @CHBoorman | @BigDataExpo #IoT #BigData

Big load of nonsense or the biggest game-changer in business today?

What Is Big Data? Big Load of Nonsense or the Biggest Game-Changer in Business Today?
By Chris Boorman

The quickest way to understand Big Data is to visualize it. Big Data is the billions of call detail records that surround every phone call you make or data message you send. It is the masses and masses of DNA sequencing analyzed to discover biomedical breakthroughs. It is the millions of individual transactions that pass through a retailer's point of sale platforms every day. And it is the billions of financial transactions that personal, commercial and corporate customers execute through financial services systems.

Understood? Well, if you need a tighter explanation, this is the generally accepted definition of what Big Data is: it is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate.

These data sets grow in size in part because they are increasingly being gathered by cheap and numerous information-sensing devices. Car insurance companies, for example, increasingly use remote sensing devices to monitor driving patterns and adjust insurance premiums accordingly. Healthcare devices can monitor patient status in remarkable granularity. Radio-frequency identification readers track the movement of manufactured items across warehouses or across the globe. And wireless sensor networks pick up everything from weather patterns to the way wine grapes grow.

Until recently, these Big Data sets were simply too hard to handle. Traditional relational database management systems, desktop statistics and visualization packages, for example, often have difficulty handling Big Data. Telco companies could analyze patterns of customer behavior by peering into their customer relationship management (CRM systems), but they struggled to drill down into the granular detail of every individual voice and data communication. This wasn't like looking for a needle in a haystack, it was like looking for a needle in a mountain of other needles.

Not any more. The vendor community is responding to the advent of Big Data analytics with highly distributed architectures and new levels of memory and processing power. Upstarts also exploit the open source licensing model, which is not new, but is increasingly accepted and even sought out by data management professionals. Hortonworks, which specializes in open source Apache Hadoop development, leads the Big Data revolution. Hadoop, Cloudera and MapR have also piled into the fray.

Harness that Big Data and you open a Pandora's Box. Big Data analytics brings vast volumes of structured and unstructured data into the fold, with information gleaned from social media feeds, blogs, videos and other sources. Sorting through this information enables companies (and government for that matter) to give customers a personal and rewarding service. And as we all know, treating customers like rock stars makes them stickier.

Big Data improves operational efficiency too. These huge repositories of data, combined with machine-to-machine interaction, are fuelling a new wave of predictive analytics. Allowing airlines, for instance, to determine the maintenance schedule for their aircraft engines, alerting the supply chain to ensure that the needed parts arrive at the right place at the right time./p>

Factor in mobility and the case for big data grows even stronger. Adding mobility to big data means enabling frontline employees with real-time insights, when and where they need them. Mobility also increases the impact of Big Data on both customer intelligence and operational efficiency by making everything immediately actionable. Armed with immediate decision-making capability and intelligence on your mobile phone, you will be able to implement new business processes that will change how business is done. For example, courier companies can proactively alert their drivers to route delays ensuring more on-time delivery.

It's safe to say that organizations are only scratching the surface with Big Data. In five years, they will be dealing with even larger volumes of structured and unstructured data-using it to make even smarter decisions. For a taste of the future, consider the following. At this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile). It offers an ‘over the horizon' look at the digital car of tomorrow that we will drive-and the influence of Big Data.

Concept IAA features ‘Car-to-X' technology, for example, which enables it to communicate with other vehicles or other sources of information. This represents a major advance in helping to avoid accidents, as obstacles or events which are not visible to the vehicle itself can be detected-the Concept IAA is able to look around the corner. Head of Mercedes Benz Cars, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, even went so far as to say, "We are transitioning from car manufacturer to networked mobility provider."

Mercs are now data-driven? Whatever next?

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Automic, a leader in business automation, helps enterprises drive competitive advantage by automating their IT factory - from on-premise to the Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things.

With offices across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, Automic powers over 2,600 customers including Bosch, PSA, BT, Carphone Warehouse, Deutsche Post, Societe Generale, TUI and Swisscom. The company is privately held by EQT. More information can be found at www.automic.com.