Managing data challenges with business intelligence

There's no arguing the benefits that big data and business intelligence solutions offer for businesses in the digital era. The ability to conduct analysis on every granular detail of an organisation is opening up new avenues for productivity, efficiency and customer service improvement.

That said, there's a reason they call it 'big' data. The sheer amount of information flooding into businesses can be intimidating for individuals who are ill-equipped to handle it, and with increasing connectivity of devices from the internet of things (IoT), the scale is only likely to continue growing.

The sheer amount of information flooding into businesses can be intimidating.

The challenge of big data can be effectively summarised in the so-called Three Vs of Big Data – volume, velocity and variety – and understanding each one is necessary for businesses looking to capitalise on analysis.

Turn up the volume

This aspect is where big data mostly takes its name from, and the one that is the easiest to understand. To do so, let's look at a few figures.

According to IDC, in 2013 the total amount of data that existed was 4.4 zettabytes or, more colloquially, 4.4 billion terabytes. The data universe is growing at such a rate, however, that by 2020 it is predicted that the world will be home to somewhere in the region of 44 zettabytes – ten times the amount that existed just seven years earlier.

Obviously, no single organisation will ever be expected to analyse all of that information, but it gives an idea of just how quickly the landscape is growing. Whatever the amount of data your business is dealing with currently, are you confident that in just 3-4 years time you will be capable of managing 10 times as much? And are your existing business intelligence solutions up to the task of deriving insight from such a wealth of information?

Is your business intelligence equipped to handle data from new sources?Is your business intelligence equipped to handle data from new sources?

Variety is the spice of life

The second challenge of big data is variety, tied closely to innovation and how digital technology is being incorporated into more and more aspects of our lives. Even as little as 10 years ago, the data landscape was much simpler, with information being mostly contained to computers and peripheral devices, and software solutions such as email or digital photography.

The pace of innovation,however, has led to almost innumerable sources of digital information. ZDNet notes that users are uploading almost one billion photos to Facebook every day, most commonly from smartphones and other digital devices. Wearable technology such as smartwatches and fitness trackers are constantly generating new data about our movements and activity. Even our homes are becoming connected, with smart light bulbs and appliances just two examples of new sources of data.

Digital technology is being incorporated into more and more aspects of our lives.

Every piece of content, regardless of its source, has data associated with it, and traditional analytics practices such as spreadsheets are now unable to keep up with the myriad ways in which information is created. It's therefore essential that you have the most modern tools and technical support to manage it all.

Variable velocity

Not only is all of this new data being created at an unprecedented scale from more sources than ever before, it's also happening with incredible speed. The aforementioned Facebook example is a good indication – over 10,000 images are being processed by the social media giant every second.

While there is some level of consistency to that data creation, with trending topics frequently capturing the social consciousness, the rate at which new information is being generated can also increase with little warning. Should an event in your industry suddenly be catapulted into the zeitgeist, there's no telling what the impact might be on your organisation.

As IoT technology becomes more prevalent and big data continues to escalate, the faster it will need to be collected and analysed. With volume, variety and velocity all putting pressure on organisations and their business intelligence solutions, working with expert consultants is crucial. 

Speak to AtoBI today about the best business intelligence tools to meet your needs.