How to make the most of Big Data

Big Data has been credited with helping businesses increase profits, banks improve lending and even media companies perfect their products, such as by creating movies and shows around customer preferences. But at the same time, not all Big Data is equal, and it's just as important for businesses to invest in data engine software and know how to use the information as well. A recent Harvard Business Review article looked at the differences between companies that have a large return on investment when working with Big Data and those with a smaller improvement.

Specifically, the article explained that businesses that benefit the most from Big Data "pan for gold in several places." For example, instead of relying on just one form of data, a retailer can look for customer information from the physical stores, how others perceive the brand and where customers are located to make the most accurate marketing and sale decisions. 

Additionally, effective Big Data users are finding ways to track systems that may seem unable to be qualified. 

"Unstructured data, or digitized text, video, machine and other data that doesn't easily fit into traditional databases, is hard for computers to analyze," the article wrote. "That's changing, however, as analytics tools come to market for performing such compute-intensive chores as discerning sentiments from text."

The news source also suggests working with external data. While this can require an extra step in the Big Data process, finding data a company doesn't originally own can also help businesses create a more accurate picture of what their customers want, and better help companies attract clients. 

Lastly, the article said that businesses that benefit the most from Big Data are those that "create a home for their Big Data professionals." Having a team concentrate on Big Data, and not necessarily on the business side, allowed a company to make full use of the information before looking for ways to increase profits. 

"Providing unvarnished advice to key executives about how to optimize the website, the analysts have helped the firm increase revenue by tens of millions of dollars," the article explained. 

Regardless, it's important for businesses to not only invest in Big Data, but also to know how to use the tools. 

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