Big Data and Cloud technology, managing and storing information

In the last post, we covered advancements in the mobile industry and social media and their impact on your business. If you missed this post you can find it here. This week I’m exploring trends within Big Data and impacts on moving into the cloud.

Big Data Streams

Information itself has fast become the critical asset in digital business. In fact, every business is now a digital business and it doesn’t matter if you are a car company, a mobile company or a bank. But what do we mean when we talk about Big Data? As explained by SAS, it’s a popular term to describe the exponential growth and availability of data, both as structured and unstructured. Some even state that it could be as important to businesses and society in the same way as the Internet has become. This is because the power of data can lead us to more accurate analysis and confident decision making based on facts we didn’t have before. The impact of this could lead to better decisions made meaning greater operations, more efficiency, cost reductions and reduced risks.

Already in 2001, the industry analyst Doug Laney talked about the definition of big data around volume, velocity and variety. When we look at data volume we now have huge amounts of unstructured data coming in from social media, machine-to-machine data and data read by sensors. Storage costs have also decreased but with these large amounts of information how can we define relevance and how can we make sense of this data?

With Big Data, handling information has become more complex and with it comes the need for comprehensive analytics. From the
R&D department to customer service or sales, all departments will need to communicate with each other for efficient decisions.

When looking at velocity, data is now streamed in real time and must be dealt with in a timely manner. From retail to supply chain, having an infrastructure that can handle information with data velocity is a challenge for most businesses.

Lastly when looking at the variety of data it can be structured, unstructured, numeric data and traditional databases. How we manage, merge and draw conclusions of this information is key to understanding the landscape of your businesses.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” — Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson

Data visualisation companies like Tableau Software can help understanding your data and this is just the beginning. On a global scale, we have gathered the same amount of data in the past two years as since the beginning of history. As mentioned by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson (Big Data: The Management Revolution) in the Harvard Business Review “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

This trend is here to stay and when improving and building your business’ platforms, it’s important to build to handle information of this size. Not only now but also for the future.

Questions to ask:

  • How is data gathered and managed currently in your business?
  • How is this data shared between departments and decision makers?
  • How is your data organized and how do you make sense of it?
  • Are there important streams of data you might be missing?
  • How do you use information to predict the future demand of your business?

Moving into the Cloud

When talking about Big Data we often run into discussing cloud-based services and how to store information. The days when you had to store everything about your company in big rooms of servers and physical devices are starting to fade. More businesses are now moving their services into the cloud. Some have done the transition completely, but some companies are still deciding which cloud solution to get.

It’s a competitive market and before moving your data and services into the cloud there are many things to consider. More companies than ever work offshore with affiliate offices and rely heavily on cloud services to collaborate. Many large technical companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Baidu are now investing heavily in how they can improve and innovate their cloud services, both for consumers and enterprises. With so much information that goes into cloud environments, there are also other risks that arise around security and data ownership.

Questions to ask:

  • If you haven’t chosen a cloud solution yet, take the time to consider the priorities for your business so you can match the solution to your priorities.
  • Do you have one or several cloud solutions?
  • Is there any way you can improve and streamline your cloud solutions?
  • How secure is your data? What happens if your data provider stops its services?
  • Do you have a long-term scalable solution for your business for the years to come?

In 2015 and beyond digital will become the universal language for most industries. It will be the singular channel through which people will make the most important decisions about how to better cater for their clients. The digital transformation will manifest itself through a broad range of markets. Digital will be the central driver for solving problems, improving operations, lower costs, improving customer experiences as well as boosting revenue.

Originally published at on November 13, 2015.