What small companies can learn from big data
Information overload. The phrase barely scratches the surface when it comes to the mass quantities of data available for gathering. Take the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, for example. In 2000, when the star survey project first took off, the New Mexico telescope had collected more data in its first few weeks than had ever been collected in the history of astronomy. Since that time, it has accumulated more than 140 terabytes of information.
And if that’s not enough to blow your mind, according to the Economist, Chili’s Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is predicted to draw in that much data every five days. But it’s not just the great expanse that holds an infinite amount of information. Even the retail world has mind-boggling amounts of data to collect.
“Wal-Mart, a retail giant, handles more than 1m customer transactions every hour, feeding databases estimated at more than 2.5 petabytes—the equivalent of 167 times the books in America's Library of Congress,” reports the Economist.
Regardless of the size of the business or the amount of information it takes in, it’s essential for retailers to remember that collecting the data is just the beginning of the process. It becomes big data when each piece of information is analyzed, sized up and put into context.
In the video above, IBM expert Jeff Jonas explains why data matters. What it equates to for retailers is that when individual transactions (individual pieces of data) are placed into the bigger picture, so much can be learned about consumers and their shopping habits.