Big data is complex and if you you look at it as a person you might think it is feeling ignored. That’s according to SAS software’s humorous personification in its most recent viral ad. In a scene reminiscent of insurance giant, Allstate’s popular “Mayhem” PR campaign, SAS’s ‘Big Data’ introduces himself with, “I’m Big Data. Without powerful analytics, you’ll be swimming in a sea of data like these guys.”
By “these guys,” SAS’s Big Data is referring to companies and organizations buried by facts, figures, and paperwork, struggling to make any sense of it all. Like the “Mayhem” character, who serves as a metaphor for impending disaster, SAS’s Big Data, is also a metaphor. In this case, Big Data is indicative of the evolution of Business Intelligence: the age of Big Data has arrived and it can’t be ignored for long.
As I mentioned in a previous article, Top Business Intelligence Trends, the demand for big data, and more importantly, managing and understanding the valuable bits of information derived from overwhelming amounts of data, is greater than ever. Many companies are also facing other big data challenges, including being short on manpower and funding, making it more difficult to incorporate social media data into their traditional research strategies.
The point of big data, a term that describes the “exponential growth, availability and use of information, both structured and unstructured,” says SAS in Big Data – What is it?, is for organizations to have the ability to “harness relevant data and use it to make the best decisions.” SAS also recommends asking a few basic questions when trying to decide which services are most appropriate to get the best advantage out tapping big data streams, including, “What if your data volume gets so large and varied you don’t know how to deal with it? Do you store all your data? Do you analyze it all? How can you find out which data points are really important?”
However, not all business questions are answered with more data, but by making better strategic use of big data. SAS says there are two choices for handling big data: incorporating massive data volumes in analysis and using only the big data is that is most relevant. What approach you take depends on the answers you are looking for. “If the answers you are seeking will be better provided by analyzing all of your data, go for it. The game-changing technologies that extract true value from big data – all of it – are here today. One approach is to apply high-performance analytics to analyze the massive amounts of data using technologies such as grid computing, in-database processing and in-memory analytics,” says SAS.
Recent technological advances are also making it easier for firms to decide what data is most important. SAS explains, “Traditionally, the trend has been to store everything (some call it data hoarding) and only when you query the data do you discover what is relevant. We now have the ability to apply analytics on the front end to determine data relevance based on context. This analysis can be used to determine which data should be included in analytical processes and which can be placed in low-cost storage for later availability if needed.”
As it’s become increasingly vital to incorporate external, real-time data as the drivers of a company’s internal operations, SAS’s ad is more than clear: the organizations that keep ignoring big data, will be left behind. What do you think of SAS’s ad? Is this what Big Data would say if it could talk? And perhaps most importantly, is that a guy you’ve been ignoring?
Heather Turner is a writer based in London who has worked in the fields of print and broadcast journalism, PR and film. Turner moved to London in 2009 from the rural Ozark Mountain region of Missouri to pursue a B.A. in Mass Communications and to gain more hands-on experience in film and marketing. She currently writes about trends in digital media and maintains a blog in her spare time on subjects including politics and media criticism.