Big data projects ‘already seeing big results’

Companies that have been quick to understand the importance of big data and adopt solutions to take advantage of its potential are already seeing significant positive results, it has been claimed.

It was noted by Daniel Burrus, technology futurist and author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, in a piece for the Huffington Post that many businesses in sectors such as retail are seeing payoffs from investing in big data analytics.

For instance, he noted that Canadian electronics chains The Source and Charlie Brown use real-time analytics of their data to aid in decision-making. One way they employed this was identifying trends such as the popularity of certain items.

It was found that sales of upscale electronic items priced from $650 sold in far higher numbers than budget items in the $150 price range. Therefore, the stores were able to adjust their inventory to promote the more popular goods, which led to sales in this category climbing by 40 percent.

“Thanks to the real-time data, they were able to know exactly which products they needed more of. There was no guessing involved. They could zero right in on a shift in purchasing and make the changes pay off immediately,” Mr Burrus said.

He observed one of the challenges for retailers looking to get involved with big data is appreciating just how much information they will need to study, which will make ensuring they have the right analytical platform an essential decision.

Mr Burrus stated that to visualize the data, consider a standard five-drawer filing cabinet. Walmart alone generates enough information to fill 60 million of these every hour, which illustrates why traditional analytics solutions will no longer be adequate for handling these volumes.

As well as this, the total amount of information that is passed over the internet every second is now the same volume as would have been transferred in a year back in the early days of the technology.

“Most of that increase has been in the last few years due to the exponential, and predictable, advances in processing power, storage and bandwidth,” Mr Burrus said. He added this trend is almost certain to continue as data grows and desires for real-time analytics increases.