Big Data: Big Deal in 2011

Each New Year brings a fresh crop of predictions for hot
new technology trends. Say what you want about mobile, cloud computing or virtualization.
For my money, the trend most likely to shape your 2011 success is Big Data.


Think about it. A tsunami of data is approaching from an
increasingly broad array of sources – sensors, mobile devices,
machine-to-machine communications, and social media, to name just a few. Huge
volumes of information are waiting in call center records, web interactions,
and customer communications.


As a result, companies like yours are becoming deluged
with gigantic waves of information. A recent IDC study projected that the total
volume of electronically stored data and files – the digital universe – would reach
1.2 zettabytes in 2010. That’s 21 zeros behind the 1, if you’re keeping


Powerful processing and cheap storage make it easier than
ever to collect and store this data. But much of this information lacks the
standard structure that companies have long used to populate their data


So how should you process Big Data and use it to make
better business decisions? How can you marry it with what you already know about your customers, supply chain,
financial performance, and partners


My advice is to begin socializing your data. With the
Socialization of Data, you integrate and share data across the enterprise. Using
robust analytics, powerful data warehousing, and smart data mining
applications, you can explore relationships, quickly spot new opportunities and
identify trends that will help you gain new insight. And with that insight
comes exceptional competitive advantage.


Nike demonstrates this with what I call the wow!
factor. Wanting to improve its traction with a younger customer base, Nike lets
consumers design and customize their gear. From that information, they learn
what kids want to buy, and they use that data to inform their product design
and customer engagement strategies. 


InterContinental Hotels Group also understands the
Socialization of Data. They put computing power in the hands of the people –
their hotel guests – to give them the mobility they demand. The company’s
iPhone app is the most downloaded in the hotel industry. Last year, by
collecting and analyzing this mobile data, IHG drove $2.5 million a month in
sales from mobile bookings.  That’s an increase of 400 percent.


And don’t forget social media data. More than 25 percent
of the 2 billion people on the Internet use Facebook. Twitter users send 85
million tweets each day. On these channels, consumers talk about your company,
your products, and your service.


You can’t control what customers say, but you can listen
to their conversations and act accordingly. For example, JC Penney, a U.S.
clothing retailer, created an online community of influential customers for its
Ambrielle apparel line. By collecting Big Data from the online channels, the
retailer knew which customers made recent purchases and which were influencers
and early adopters. With that knowledge, the retailer boosted customer
engagement by empowering its customers to take part in product reviews and


Many companies recognize the importance of Big Data and
are now deploying enhanced systems to collect and leverage it. In a report last
year by the Data Warehousing Institute, nearly half of organizations surveyed
said they are looking to replace their primary data warehousing platform by


What’s more, I see organizations beginning to apply their
Socialization of Data strategies to various new data types, including
geospatial, temporal and sensor data. Only a few years ago, this kind of
analysis was reserved for the largest companies with the deepest pockets.


Now, organizations of all sizes can use the time-aware
capabilities of databases like Teradata 13.10 to track the history and
evolution of customer or product line data. Without extensive re-coding or
time-consuming data manipulation, you can determine financial status, trace
product consumption or analyze sales geographies at precise moments in time.
These vast volumes of temporal data can open a new window of insight through
rapid, multi-dimensional analysis.


There’s no doubt that Big Data will affect you in 2011.
The only question is whether you maximize the opportunity that comes with this
wave of information. By embracing a Socialization of Data strategy, your
organization can turn the Big Data challenge into a future of exceptional
insight and growth.


By Darryl McDonald, executive vice president, Business
Development and Marketing, Teradata Corporation

[email protected]