Importance of Understanding Big Data

Zeros and ones on a screen

Many businesses misperceive big data as a tool accessible to only the information-heavy companies like Google. Big data is industry agnostic and offers value to anyone willing to analyze it. In fact, companies with such extensive data should view data analysis as an operational necessity.

Big data offers invaluable access to insights never before available. It enables organizations to make better-informed business decisions for long-term sustainability. The opportunity within massive data quantities is completely changing how companies view business strategy, redesigning plans for consumers, employees, and products as a result.

Companies have discovered the competitive advantage to big data analysis. It explains the explosion of behavioral tracking embedded in every piece of technology we own. Collecting, analyzing, and storing consumer behavior multiplies the value of a business dollar.

Marketing and Product Development

Innovation is instrumental for business in today's marketplace. Netflix is an excellent example of utilizing large data sets for innovation. The award-winning series “House of Cards” is one of the many shows born from analyzing tons of data including viewer preferences. The findings dictate decisions as critical as selecting a director.

Another example of rigorous big data analysis for the greater business good is social media. Companies gather terabytes of user data daily used to devise which products and services to deliver next. Using the insights to target niche audiences through messaging and ad placements.

Take the global fashion retailer Gilt Groupe for example. Having collected five years of data, Gilt Groupe offers an extremely personalized and valuable shopping experience. Every day at noon, the retailer distributes 3,000 different variations of their marketing message to consumers. Within 60 seconds, every shopper receives a unique version based on his or her previous online shopping behaviors.1

Company Spending

The first place organizations look when embracing a big data led strategy is spending. Companies like UPS are now monitoring granular delivery activity thanks to big data. Tracking speed, location, fuel, and even seatbelt use afford UPS cost savings. By reducing fuel consumption and operational efficiencies, a closer look made a dramatic impact.

A second great example is Caesar’s Entertainment Corp. By analyzing data pools of health claims, they know if and how employees are using their benefits. With a workforce of 65,000, small adjustments translate into big returns.2

Scientific Research and Global Impacts

Analyzing data sets of this size have proven monumental in scientific research. Access to the granular information allows developing of society as a whole, including science and technology, economics, and decision-making.

The UN Global Pulse initiative is a great example. Its mission is to accelerate discovery, development, and scaled adoption of big data innovation for sustainable development and humanitarian action. Hosting the Big Data Climate Challenge, Global Pulse sourced projects from around the world that use big data and analytics to address real world impacts of climate change.3

Personalized Healthcare

Big data is improving the quality of life one patient at a time. Modernizing industry practices through technology and applications is making a tremendous impact. Transitioning medical records to digital form gives healthcare professionals better access to information when they need it. It creates more personalized and valuable patient visits.

Fighting Terrorism

Analyzing big data also provides tools to fight against terrorism. Large data sets deliver military personnel invaluable insights to help better understand terrorist behaviors, such as motives, networks, financial backing, suppliers, and informants.4 The more advanced technology becomes, the harder it becomes for terrorists to hide.

Fighting terrorism, improved quality of care, effective global initiatives, and economic growth are all products of big data analysis. The availability of information affords limitless opportunity. Take changing the world, for example.

If you would like to learn more about how big data plays a role in today’s technology industry, request more information about Georgetown University’s online Master’s in IT Management program or contact an admissions representative at (855) 725-7622.


  1. Gilt Groupe: Using Big Data, Mobile, and Social Media to Reinvent Shopping. McKinsey&Company, Nov. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
  2. Rosenbush, Steven, and Michael Totty. "How Big Data Is Changing the Whole Equation for Business." The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 10 Mar. 2013. Web. Sept. 2015.
  3. "United Nations Global Pulse." About. UN Global Pulse, 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
  4. Delgado, Rick. "Connecting Data and People." Datafloq. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Oct. 2015.

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