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4 questions to ask before starting a big data initiative

Reda Chouffani | Aug. 22, 2012
Big data holds much promise for organizations seeking ways to improve business processes.

In most market verticals today, the majority of the information needed for a big data initiative is already available; however, it may in some cases lack volume and standardization. Many organizations face the challenge of quickly implementing the right platform to capture and extract data from the different business application siloes and make it available for data analysis.

Today's marketing firms and internal marketing departments face is the challenge of leveraging data to first generate more leads and then accurately measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. With many consumers discussing brands on different social media sites, it can be daunting tasks to attempt to track Tweets, user reviews, and Likes throughout the Web. However, with many social sites offering the ability to pull data, organizations can leverage the big data to get customer insight and real-time analytics.

There are numerous online data sources that retail can use. Much of it relates to consumer browsing behavior and overall brand sentiment. As noted above, data can be extracted using APIs from social media services, as well as from Google and Web server logs. In addition, many retailers captured data within their stores, whether it's tracking physical shopping carts or using customer rewards cards to monitor customer shopping patterns.

Healthcare can utilize data stored in electronic health record systems. In addition, recent federal incentives such as the stimulus bill, the HITECH Act and health care reform provide financial incentives for adopting health information technology, which makes more structured and semi-structured data available to physicians, executive and other stakeholders. Finally, wearable medical devices and mobile health applications are gaining popularity. Both the devices and the apps generate a continuous flow of data, which healthcare organizations are preparing to capture and use in the name of improving patient care.

Advances in medical research has enabled drug manufacturers to create highly targets pharmaceutical testing for patients with specific genetic markers. This has been accelerating with the overwhelming scale of data that scientists can utilize, with that data further shared through international efforts such as the Annotated Human Genome Data project.

For the global logistics industry, which deals with supply chain management and control of goods, big data originating from numerous sources- GPS technology, EDI messages from suppliers and shipping vendors, pallets and cases of goods, mobile devices with customer data, internal ERP systems and social media sources-can provide significantly insight and support to the re-engineering process.

Enterprise finance institutions such as Citigroup have begun the journey toward a big data initiative. The focal point here is reducing fraud and ensuring that patterns ordinarily hidden within data sets can be brought to the surface, expose activity such as money laundering and ensuring compliance with United States and international banking rules.


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