Have you ever received a retail coupon that reflected a recent purchase, or been sent a special offer via SMS from an establishment as you walked by it? Most likely you have, and the precision of retail advertising is no surprise these days. Typically, such deep knowledge of a customer is derived from phone call and billing records, purchase history, payment records, GPS, etc. – or in other words, thorough the analysis of “Big Data”.
But don’t get the wrong impression: Big Data is not concerned with tracking the specifics about or behavior of individuals, with an intention to create a 360° view of a customer. Instead, the term refers to the exponential growth and availability of raw data in general, the processing of which provides valuable insight into various business spheres.
While a certain portion of Big Data is relatively easy to process – e.g. the source data for retail projections mentioned above – other data is much less consistent and harder to obtain and analyze. We focus on such data in today’s post and specifically on the opportunities Big Data brings to telecom business owners. We will also touch upon a few potential obstacles they might face while processing the data – and solutions to these possible pitfalls.
But first, let's clarify the key terminology, so we are able to collectively examine such a huge topic.
Put simply, Big Data is a vast and not-so-easily-managed collection of information. IBM defines it as “information that can't be processed or analyzed using traditional processes and tools.” Gartner provides a more complex definition, referring to it as “high-volume, high-velocity, and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.”
Thus, what could be referred to as the “Three V’s of Big Data” are volume, variety and velocity:
Volume – According to IBM, there has been 800,000 PB (petabytes) of data stored worldwide as of the year 2000, and their specialists expect this number to reach 35 ZB (zettabytes) by 2020. The amount of data stored today is exploding with exponential growth: Twitter alone generates more than 7 TB of data every single day; Facebook produces 10 TB daily – and some enterprises are compiling hundreds of terabytes of data hourly.
Note: Despite these enormous figures, Big Data is mostly neglected: according to Gartner Group only 10% of businesses leverage Big Data, and those who do realize a 20% increase in performance and revenue as a result.
Variety – Today, data comes to us in myriad formats. And it’s no longer only traditional structured data but also raw, semi-structured and unstructured data from web pages, search engines, social media portals, active & passive data sensor systems, etc.;