Big Data

Use it before it buries your business!

The internet enables 2.9 million emails to be sent every second. Each day, Google processes 24 petabytes (that’s one quadrillion–much larger than the national debt).  Although your business may not have this much data, every business is accumulating more and more of it.  The industry calls this accumulation “big data.”

What does big data mean to you?  It means you have to think differently about how you manage in this environment.  Sure, you can transfer most of this big data to the cloud and let Google, Microsoft or a number of other providers manage it for you.  But as a business person, data IS your business.  Here are a few basic actions to help you confront it.

1.  Decide what data is essential to running your business. This depends greatly on the type of business you have.  If you’re in mainstream manufacturing, what’s essential will be very different than what a consultancy or services business requires.  But no matter your business, your financial data is probably THE most important. Customer data associated with financial data may top the list as well, since it represents the goodwill line on your financial statement.

2. Recognize what part of your business creates the most data. If you have an active online presence, you will point immediately to the internet as the biggest culprit in amassing data.  You may not see it or have to manage it internally, because most businesses today outsource this capability.  This data is rich with insights and shouldn’t be ignored or forgotten.  It can tell you what interests your customers before they buy, what information they use to make their decisions and what other sites they visit before they come to yours.

3.  Decide what you need to know from the data that you collect. This is tricky because it requires that you have a plan for your business and understand what data will help you achieve that plan.  For example, let’s assume that you want to grow your manufacturing business into other states or countries.  When you examine the customer records you have today, do you capture information about their reach to other states or countries?  Do you know that Mike’s Bicycle Shop is one of 43 that span 3 different states?

Maria Villar
Maria Villar
Maria Villar is an information technology expert and a vice president at SAP, a global software company, with responsibility over the firm’s data management strategy & governance . She and Theresa Kushner co-write a regular column to They are co-authors of Managing Your Business Data: From Chaos to Confidence, published by Racom Books in 2008. Villar was recognized in Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the Top 100 Influential Hispanics, and received the Distinguished Hispanic IT Executive award from Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference.