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Access to actionable big data can be fleeting

Rachel Wheeler Archive

For companies looking to mine big data from social networking sites and incorporate the information into improving their operations, ensuring data quality is often the hard part. Given the massive volume of data flowing into their servers, businesses often struggle to verify that contact information is accurate and no errors are left uncorrected.

But with some varieties of social data, there's another even bigger problem to look out for - data can be fleeting, and companies have no way of retaining control of it. According to Wired, Snapchat is one example of a social media platform that poses a problem for companies looking to mine data. The way the site works, people can send photos instantly to other users, and often users' messages betray a lot of information about themselves and their habits as consumers. Because Snapchat deletes messages after they're seen, however, companies have no way to gather permanent business intelligence from them.

Wired estimates that of the 500 million photos shared online every day, 150 million are via Snapchat. The technology isn't disappearing anytime soon.

CNBC reports that Snapchat and other sites like it might be at the forefront of a larger social media movement. In the future, all shared content might disappear soon after it's seen.

"We really think this is a big idea," Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel told the network. "It's just the very, very beginning of something we call ephemeral media - media you share that disappears. It's hard to say right now, but it's a really big space, and we look forward to exploring it."

If Spiegel is right, companies will need to change their strategies in the future for gathering big data. The business world loves gleaning valuable lessons from social media sites, but those sites are becoming dodgier and more difficult to mine. How will corporate IT officials adjust?

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