The Big Data Conversation

Big Data“Big data” is not just a buzzword.

For many industries, including marketing and communications, big data is an opportunity to do things better.

For those of you still not familiar with what big data is, here’s a short definition from Wikipedia:

Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis and visualization. The trend to larger data sets is due to the additional information derivable from analysis of a single large set of related data, as compared to separate smaller sets with the same total amount of data, allowing correlations to be found to “spot business trends, determine quality of research, prevent diseases, link legal citations, combat crime, and determine real-time roadway traffic conditions.

In simpler terms, it allows you take a lot of data that may not usually have been able to be processed together and look at it all together to come up with insights. Those insights can range from why climate is changing to how to better deliver target messages to customers. Possibilities are almost endless as long as there is data to analyze.

Here’s a great video that can help to explain it a little more visually that also has a great example of how big data can be used by a marketer to send the right message to a consumer at exactly the right time:

So, if big data is so great, why is not seeing the public adaptation that it should be?

If you run in certain circles you may be thinking, “but I can’t get away from people talking about big data these days.” I thought the same before I sat down to write this post.

Using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, I intended to show that big data is being adopted more as well as talked about more over the past year as people come to see its value. In the past year the term has actually been mentioned through social channels 4.9 million times.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

While almost 5 million mentions of big data is by no means a small number, there was an interesting trend in how it was being talked about. When I plotted all of those mentions out over time for the year I thought that the trend in mentions would show a steady visible rise as time went on. Instead, what I found was that the trend of mentions held relatively steady with only a slight rise in the past few months (save for that large spike in March which was caused by a conference centred around talking about big data).

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

At the same time, while talk about big data hasn’t risen all that much, a search showed me that almost 10,000 people have “big data” appearing in their Twitter bio. That tells me that there is a significant amount of people interested in the topic. If I had to guess, not nearly that many people had that term in their biographies a year ago.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Influencer Bio Search

As a company that helps people monitor, make sense of and gain insights through social media, we feel that social media can be a huge piece of the big data equation. Especially in terms of getting to know your customers better and then using that data to deliver better experiences for them. So we want to help facilitate the rise in conversation about big data.

Let’s start a conversation in the comments section of this blog. Let us know what your thoughts about big data are. Are you using bag data for business? If so, how? If you’re not, what’s holding you back?

Big data can help you do your job better by allowing you to find better insights and we want to help you do that. Let’s start by having more people talk about it. The more information everyone is armed with, the more they will be able to make big data work for them.