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Companies overcoming challenges to benefit from big data

Rachel Wheeler Archive
Big data has become a major buzzword for businesses, and for good reason. Using this new strategy, companies can harness vast amounts of unstructured information by placing it into organized data sets that help them recognize unexpected correlations.

In marketing environments, this means companies might see that 30-year-old women are most likely to buy lipstick when they receive ads with coupons via text messaging on Sunday nights. Meanwhile, healthcare facilities may realize children under the age of 6 are most likely to develop peanut allergies when they come from certain ethnic backgrounds or specific regions of the country.

Most companies have already caught on to the advantages that big data offers, since the insights are data-driven rather than inspired by individuals' gut instincts. More than 90 percent of businesses surveyed by Ricoh said using big data was at the top of their to-do lists, as highlighted in a recent Formtek blog.

Despite business leaders' eagerness to adopt, there are still stumbling blocks that may prevent them fromusing previously untapped information to its full advantage. Some of the most often-cited problems include failure to achieve greater efficiency and inability to share information easily, the report explained.

"You can't be doing business with people who are sitting thousands of miles away without having a right, visible and clear framework around it, without having the right classification and communication and without the right practices and information," said the CFO of a U.K. financial services company, as quoted in the report.

Simply investing in a big data strategy is not enough to achieve immediate success. Rather, companies must first make sure they have solid goals in place against which they can measure their efforts and then invest in the tools necessary to verify data quality.

When companies put these pieces into play, they can take on the five C's of big data, as chief technology officer for Orbis Technologies Steve Hamby wrote in a recent article for The Huffington Post. These include capacity, content, collection, celebrity and capacity. Businesses will need to take different approaches to resolving issues, depending on the amount of data they are collecting, the size of the content they plan to use, the diversity of the sources from which they are drawing, the timeliness of the information and the expected end results - i.e. the goals they are hoping to achieve.