Does big data have a big future?

Asking someone if they’ve heard of big data is like asking someone whether they have a smartphone. The difference is that only a handful really know what the big data fuzz is about.
Jeroen Colin

Asking someone if they’ve heard of big data is like asking someone whether they have a smartphone. The difference is that only a handful really know what the big data fuzz is about. Everybody however fully agrees that there are big opportunities to capture in the future. And that future is not far ahead, it is rather now. As Master students in Business Engineering and Civil Engineering, we are part of this future. We were given the opportunity by Möbius to explore big data and its technologies hands-on with a challenging internship, which opened our eyes when it comes to big data and analytics. This post shares our experience and gut feelings on big data.

Clusters replacing traditional analytics tools

There is a reason why we call it big data. It isn’t just data anymore; it has become big. Big in volume, big in variety, big in velocity. Traditional analytics tools encounter the same economic law as has encountered traditional mobile phones; standing still is going backwards. Nowadays, all kinds of technologies rise for handling big data in real-time. Big players as Google, Amazon and Microsoft all have their own cluster distribution, which are built in the cloud. These clusters can handle, store and analyse gigatonnes of data and are replacing traditional analytics tools little by little. But how does one obtain so many data?

Public data is surrounding us

Social media, mobile phones, GPS, (machine) sensors, customer loyalty cards, websites… Everything generates data these days, even your newest lawn mower or vacuum cleaner. Some of these data are kept private by businesses, many data however are out there, waiting to be taken advantage of. That’s the beauty of data; omnipresent when you know where to look. Yet the acquisition of data, once found, can be quite challenging.

Balancing in the grey zone

In terms of value, data generated on social media is a true gold mine. Some data can be directly acquired and even stored and analysed for commercial purposes. But there’s a thin line between which data can be acquired through the web and which cannot. And this is where privacy comes into play; our fundamental right which we continue to cling to whenever it matters. It is thus a stimulating challenge to acquire public data while not crossing the line.

Big opportunities

The more data available, the more potential value it possesses, the more interesting opportunities can emerge. The role of a consultancy firm is thus, in our humble opinion, quite clear. Being experts in a particular business domain, they are the bridge closing the gap between business and analytics more easily. They can guide companies in their quest towards value creation and increased customer experience through the use of big data and analytics. This collaboration can yield unforeseen insights towards a proactive customer service, business process optimizations and many more but foremost: a competitive advantage.

Saying big data is a future opportunity is wrong. The future is here now; big data is here now. Today is the day your company needs to step aboard this high speed train, or chances are that your competitors gain the upper hand. Implausible opportunities lie at the horizon. As Novastar would say: the best is yet to come!

* This blog has been written by the Master students Jeroen Colin mentored during their internship at Möbius on big data.

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Jeroen Colin