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Big Data - control it, analyse it, make decisions

14 Feb 2012

Big data is just that; huge sets of data that are constantly changing, making them really difficult to cajole into any meaningful form of information.

According to Wikipedia, Big data is the "term applied to data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time. Big data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.”

Data warehouses

Big data is usually stored in a data warehouse – that is, if you want to be able to analyse and interpret data for use in your everyday business. A data warehouse can incorporate Business Intelligence (BI) tools, which take extracts of your data into a repository to allow you to access the key information without referring to the whole dataset. The thing is, not every data warehouse provides you with the capability you require; many vendors are currently in the process of evolving from simple information storers to providers of analysis tools for extracting more meaningful insights.

Gartner recently stated that "we are seeing data warehouse platforms evolve from an information store supporting traditional business intelligence (BI) platforms to a broader analytics infrastructure supporting operational analytics, corporate performance management and other new applications and uses, such as operational BI and performance management.”

This indicates that the market is shifting from storage and access to delivery and comprehension. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2013 most data warehouse vendors will offer something that is based more around information management and focuses on getting data out.

Planning for the future

If you have large sets of regular data that are input into your business systems and you don’t have the tools to manage your data effectively, you may end up with lots of data and no way to analyse trends. Modern businesses demand much more than just joining up common tasks within their organisation, and are now more concerned with getting meaningful information out. A recent study from IBM showed that 83% of CIOs have visionary plans that include business intelligence and analytics, confirming that businesses really want to act on the huge amounts of data they have at their disposal.

Understanding business data

We believe that businesses want to gain a better understanding of their data to so they can plan for the future and make decisions based on knowledge and fact. Business Intelligence is a fundamental part of any business.

More and more businesses want to use the data they have accumulated over the years and be able to access it easily and interpret information. Through better visibility of data, including multi-dimensional analysis, Business Intelligence allows businesses to have greater control and agility, so they can measure key metrics, spot things like underperformance, and take action.

Informing decisions

In this economic climate, the ability to make informed decisions is key. Business Intelligence, such as that available with Sage, allows businesses to identify who their top customers are, which products are selling the most, what’s most profitable, and what’s in stock/on order so they can plan effectively, ensuring that customers are kept happy and profits are maximised.

Mike Lorge is managing director for Sage Business Solutions. Go here for more.