What Is Big Data and Why Does It Matter?

Perhaps nothing will have as large an impact on advanced analytics in the coming years as the ongoing explosion of new and powerful data sources. When analyzing customers, for example, the days of relying exclusively on demographics and sales history are past. Virtually every industry has at least one completely new data source coming online soon, if it isn’t here already. Some of the data sources apply widely across industries; others are primarily relevant to a very small number of industries or niches. Many of these data sources fall under a new term that is receiving a lot of buzz: big data.

Big data is sprouting up everywhere and using it appropriately will drive competitive advantage. Ignoring big data will put an organization at risk and cause it to fall behind the competition. To stay competitive, it is imperative that organizations aggressively pursue capturing and analyzing these new data sources to gain the insights that they offer. Analytic professionals have a lot of work to do! It won’t be easy to incorporate big data alongside all the other data that has been used for analysis for years.

This chapter begins with some background on big data and what it is all about. Then it will cover a number of considerations in terms of how an organization can make use of big data. Readers will need to understand what is in this chapter as much as or more than anything else in the book if they are to tame the big data tidal wave ...

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