There’s a good chance that if you are reading this blog or have been on gap intelligence’s website before you’ve heard the term “Big Data”. Today, data is inundating most work places. We have more data about anything and everything than we’ll probably ever know what to do with. Big Data applies to the idea that not only do we have data in overwhelming amounts, but our entire process of collecting, analyzing, and applying knowledge from data is changing. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that while Big Data can be a lot of things, there are a few things that it is not:

Big Data is Not the End Product

Data is, in its original form, raw and undeveloped. It isn’t error-free and ready to be analyzed. In most cases it needs interpretation, context, and understanding before it can be valuable. Big Data has to be smoothed down and cleaned before it can be applied in a broader sense to a business.

Big Data is Not the End to Human Involvement

Big Data does not mean that people may eventually be phased out just because we may not need as much human resources to collect it or because it comes to us in larger datasets. On the contrary, it seems that people are more necessary than ever to turn data into something accurate and useable in addition to something crucial for a business’s success. It’s also vital that a data team can evolve along with the data so that we can use it more efficiently.

Big Data is Not the Seashell, it’s the Whole Beach

With data being mined at its currentl rate, the amount of data we will create in the digital universe by 2020 will be at 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes (IDC, 2014).  That’s a pretty huge beach. Since Big Data contains valuable insights (seashells) and superfluous data (just sand) all compiled together in the same package, it requires skilled people who know how to focus in in the right data in order to find the value. Businesses who can't do this are potentially wasting resources on irrelevant information and becoming inefficient compared to their competitors.

Digital Universe Infographic

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Based on what Big Data is (or what it's not), we know that the way we analyze this data will continue to change. In a previous blog, I suggested that in situations where large datasets must be studied, we should choose more appropriate programs (such as R programming vs Excel) to manage the data. However until we can pull ourselves entirely away from our beloved Excel datasheets, we need to learn how to turn our large data chunks into more easily digested, bite-sized pieces. Especially for customers that don't have time to interpret whole excel databases worth of information. It’s important for us to make the data valuable in a user friendly way.

One of the cool ways gap has started providing bite-sized data is through gap Snapshots, found in our weekly market intelligence reports. These snapshots not only show a variety of interesting price trends and weekly insights into fluctuations within the channel per category, but they let our clients see different ways that they can use our Pricing and Promotions report to analyze data.

Best Buy Chart
Xerox Chart

As Big Data continues to get even bigger and evolve, so will our processes and ways we visualize data. It will become more important for businesses to adjust to these changes by learning how to sift through the sand on the beach to find the seashells and also be able to ignore the data that may be less relevant. Big Data can present some challenges with the overflow of information available now and in the future, but if used correctly, it can show us a new way to look at our businesses and consumers that we’ve never seen before.