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People are often quick to proclaim that so-and-so is the next evolution in business. In our fast-paced environment of rapid technological change, there is no shortage of advances that are looking to assume the mantle of revolutionary. After all, there’s money to be made if you can capitalize on the next product, concept, tool, etc. that will raise your company above the rest. With no lack of competition, then, is Big Data one of those impactful business paradigm shifts?

Most signs point to yes.

Is Big Data Integral to Modern Business?

Supporters of Big Data and the various fields that have sprung up around it (data science, business intelligence, analytics, to name a few) often claim that it is changing the way we do business not just in the now, but also in the near- and long-term future. All things considered, they’re looking more and more right everyday.

With the Internet playing an outsized role in our daily lives, the more digital footprints we leave behind. From all those keystrokes and mouse-clicks, business are more able than ever to build comprehensive profiles of not only their customers, but predictive models of who they want as customers and how they want them to spend their time with a given product in order to maximize return. Tailored applications are being developed to cater to the financial industry.

The fact is that with all these terabytes upon terabytes of data, there are meaningful connections and insights to be made from that collection of disparate information. Big Data is simply the concept that there is sense to be made from that seeming digital chaos; sense that can propel your business forward and give you a leg up on the competition.

Consider that Experian Data Quality’s annual Global Data Management Benchmark Report shows that 84% of US organizations say they believe that data is an integral part of forming a business strategy.

But, as the concept of Big Data is relatively new, at least to the mainstream, it makes sense that businesses seem to also share a certain amount of skepticism when it comes to Big Data. Of the respondents in the report, 27% said they believe their data is inaccurate. And the estimated error rates only rose when polling C-suite members.

But then, consider the alternative. About 52% of the organizations in the study said that they rely on educated guesses or gut feelings to make decisions based on their data.

“Businesses talk a great deal about being data-driven, but most lack the trusted, reliable data they need to effectively leverage information to drive new initiatives,” said Thomas Schutz, senior vice president and general manager for Experian Data Quality, in a press release for the report.

“Good data is good for business. We know that when we help organizations make improvements to their data, they see positive results. However, organizations need to develop an understanding of their data assets and speak a common language around data so the necessary investment can be made in a holistic data management practice.”

And the results bear that out; 85% of organizations experienced more timely and personalized customer communications as a result of improving their data quality solution.

How Big Data Can Help Businesses

Big Data is only growing. Consider that some of the largest companies in the world are betting big on the Internet of Things (IoT). Essentially, IoT is the interconnectedness of devices so as to facilitate real-time information exchange and data storage for future use and interpretation. Projected in the future to reach new heights, IoT is expected to only further increase businesses’ reliance on data.

General Electric predicts that investment in industrial IoT will top $60 trillion in the next 15 years. And that’s just one element that will contribute to Big Data.

Besides, you don’t have to wait for the future in order to capitalize on some of the advantages offered today in the data world.

Hadoop is an open-source software program that analyzes and stores huge amounts of data. It’s gaining popularity among some of the heaviest hitters in the tech world and, being as it is open-source, is a cost-effective way to help your business access data like never before.

The fields of business intelligence and other decisions making processes are also growing, often with shining results of the companies best able to take advantage of them.

Lufthansa, for instance, uses an IoT-based strategy to mine data from their maintenance, repair and overhaul operations and provide it to their customers.

Wendy’s has started using a mapping solution to decide where to branch out its franchises, using data to find the best locations that would yield the most customers and therefore profits.

Frankly, there are no shortages of online resources to help you not only take advantage of Big Data, but learn how to navigate the shifting landscape that is the future of information collection and analysis.

The end result is that when a company employs Big Data tactics to help make decisions or draw conclusions, it is simply engaging in another tool available to help improve their business. Sure it has its skeptics, but Big Data is not worth fearing. Instead, learning how best to take advantage of Big Data will do a service to companies looking to gain an edge in the contemporary marketplace.

What’s Next for Big Data

Both the future and the present look bright for proponents of Big Data. Companies who have taken a liking to the process have already benefited, as evidenced above. And for those looking to add Big Data solutions to their company’s arsenal, it has never been easier – or more affordable.

While potentially daunting at first by nature of its scale and its current newness, using Big Data to better your business is one way to keep your outfit in the race to modernity. The trend is pushing towards the creation of more data, and therefore more focus being laid upon it as it continues to increase in importance in our business lives.

At this point, there is no turning back the tide, not that you would want to. Instead, you’re better off embracing the information-centric world we inhabit, and using the tools available to you to push your business forward.

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