Magazine article Information Management

Harnessing Big Data for Competitive Advantage

Magazine article Information Management

Harnessing Big Data for Competitive Advantage

Article excerpt

The most objective definition of big data describes it as datasets that grow so large they become awkward to work with using onhand tools. Difficulties include capture, storage, search, sharing, analytics, and visualizing.

Another term we often hear is dark data. Gartner Research Vice President Andrew White wrote in a Gartner blog that "Dark Data is like that furniture you have in that Dark Cupboard." He went on to explain, "Dark data is the cute name given to all that data an organization gathers that is not part of their day to day operations. It is old stuff, stuff that turned up in the mail that you kept, 'just in case.' It is data that you didn't erase, because 'it might come in handy some time.'"

Accumulating Big Data

This trend continues because large datasets - on the order of terabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes - allow analysts to do such things as spot business trends, prevent disease, and combat crime. Much of this data is unstructured content, which encompasses such things as e-mails, electronic documents, images, web pages, and video.

In fact, unstructured content makes up 90% percent of all the information we use every day, and it is growing at a staggering rate - three times faster than structured data. Structured or unstructured, information is the currency of today; it drives almost every business process, from sales to marketing to HR to analytics. And, the ability to leverage it represents the future of business.

If the big data collections can be put to good use by mining them for the "gems" and discarding what is not necessary, they can provide the necessary competitive advantage to organizations.

Eliminating ROT

So how does an organization go about mining an unstructured collection of information? It is first possible to downsize the collection by simply eliminating duplicate, potential near-duplicates, and system and executable files. …

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