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Don’t Understand the Big Deal About Big Data? Start Here!

So, big data is all the rage these days, and you don’t really understand any of it. Don’t worry, friend, you are not alone in that. Most people are just beginning to pay attention to data science of the 21st century, and, to them, it seems very new and somewhat to entirely confusing. But that doesn’t mean you should just pretend it doesn’t exist or that it can’t help you. Instead, you need to understand a few foundational realities to fully grasp what’s going on in the world of big data.

First, you need to pay attention to what’s going on with big data. That might seem simplistic, but it’s really about attention. Instead of reading about the concept or growth of data science, read articles about what companies and industries are doing with it. How is it being used, and how is that use benefiting people. When you begin to understand the why and the how, the what comes much easier.

Quality Over Quantity

Realize big data is not just about quantity. Yes, the science in its infancy promised to allow users to capture and understand much larger datasets than at any time in history. The applications at the time were all based around this newly-minted reality. But data science has continued to blossom. These days it’s not just about the amount of raw data, it’s equally about the endless types and sources of that data. Companies and individuals can now access and connect myriad different data points and sets like never before, creating crossover and inclusive applications that go way beyond a Much Bigger Bucket.

Understand that “more” is not necessarily better. If you don’t know what to do with “more” or it’s “more” of the wrong data or it was collected and stored in the wrong way, you’re doing all the work without getting the benefit. Data programs should be planned and executed with precise metrics and with specific understandings and expectations.

Speaking of, don’t make the mistake of believing data is really all about data. If that seems counterintuitive consider, is nuclear power about nuclear properties, or is it about what you can do with that power? Are automobiles about combustion or about where that combustion can take you? There are countless examples, but hopefully, you get the point. Big data is not just about data. It’s about what you can do with that data, what it can tell you, the predictions it can make and the advances it can shepherd.

Big Data’s Bottomline

Big data is about making your business better, but it’s not a general cure-all or a passing fad. It’s a strong and versatile business tool for very specific applications.

David Milberg is an investor in New York City.

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