As our new CEO Tim Miles has stated in a Herald article recently, at Gen-i we are focussing on the convergence of key ICT trends – Mobility, Cloud, Social Applications and Big Data. These trends are all inter-related and show the shape of ICT in the future.
In my article Bring Your Own Everything I talk about the convergence of the first three. But it’s Big Data that has many New Zealand businesses scratching their head and trying to find out how it is relevant.
Big Data is typically defined by three V’s;
- Volume indicates massive amount of data – with 2.7 Zetabytes of data in the digital universe today and growing, fuelled by the likes of Twitter, which has 12 Terabytes of Tweets created every day.
- Velocity refers to the rate of change and the importance of getting information quickly. In a fast changing digital world, waiting hours or days may be too late to act on what you learn.
- Variety is the number and type of different data sources that are available, such as geographical information (as LINZ have hinted at providing free), survey results, sensor data, audio, video and social media.
So the only scary one there for us is the definition of “Volume”, when associated with “Big” – even large businesses in New Zealand are small in a global context. But slight changes to the definition of “Volume” make it much more relevant for New Zealand.
Even though we have smaller data sets, there is still explosive growth – possibly beyond the capability of existing reporting solutions and beyond the current infrastructure or connectivity capacity.
Also the volume doesn’t have to refer to your data; it’s more about getting insight by combining your data with that of your partners or readily available online sources.
Making Big Data relevant for New Zealand
To gain from the Big Data trend doesn’t mean you need to be massive. You just need to be clever.
The benefits of Big Data can be realised without purchasing expensive, enterprise grade toolsets. Instead, you can use your existing tools in a different way.
Imagine having fast and timely reporting on a marketing campaign, which combines data from door sensors, website statistics, the Point Of Sale system and Twitter feeds. This would give you information you can use – genuine insight that can quickly change and improve the campaign while it is underway, rather than realising the reason for failure a month after it has finished.
It could also be an export. We already make money as a country selling scientific data to the rest of the world – Big Data will make it easier to find new buyers, with new uses for that data.
At its heart, Big Data is just a different way to think about the information you have access to – how to make it work smarter and faster for better decision making.