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Big Data Misconceptions

There are several false urban legends around Big Data, we look at the top 4

23Feb

We have seen in the last few years that everybody seems to have an opinion on Big Data. Some believe that it is means in which businesses can expand and then make the most of their resources. Others believe that it is a way for companies to dehumanize people and simply improve profit margins whilst undermining privacy.

Amongst all of these there are several myths that surround Big Data that are simply not true.

We have decided to have a look at some of the most popular and give you the truth behind them:

1. Big Data Is Only Used By Big Companies

Big Data is not something that is exclusive to Fortune 500 companies. It is not even exclusively for companies, many people have utilized Big Data and Analytics for other uses apart from making money.

Charities have been using Big Data to help with animal conservation, festivals have used to it keep bars stocked and disaster relief teams have used to it help the most vulnerable during natural disasters. Big Data has a considerable use outside of money making or exploiting new markets, it has the potential to change people’s lives for the better.

2. The Big Tech Companies Are Rich Because They Have The Most Data

It is true to an extent, but they are not rich purely because they have billions of users.

The insight they have managed to gain from the data has allowed them to make good decisions that has given them a considerable advantage over others in the same marketplace. Their culture has then allowed them to implement the correct changes quickly in order to make the most of the potential that this data has given them.

Google is not a multi-billion dollar company because they know where I like to shop. They are rich because they know how to use the data properly and have a structure that allows them to make changes based on it.

3. Data Always Means Upheaval

When people think about Big Data, they believe that it replaces systems and means that the entire company will be turned upside down in order to make changes.

Although sometime this is the case, it will only ever be at companies who are either reading the data wrong or who have been doing things badly for a number of years.

Pure data is completely unbiased, so if the company is performing well then the data will show this. If a department is succesful, it doesn’t mean that it will suddenly be doing badly because of data. It is simply a way of measuring, if there are small experiments that are shown to work then changes may be made to maximize this. However, any company who needs wholesale changes from looking at their data, is a company that needed changing anyway.

4. The More Data You Have, The Better

It’s not about the size of your data, it’s how you use it.

If you have terabytes of data in an unstructured format, it will be nowhere near as useful as one gigabyte of data that is well formatted and stored in an easy to use way. Insight is essentially gained from finding patterns or trends within the data, it is often therefore easier to find these patterns in smaller samples and will be more difficult to find in larger sets.

The way to look at it is as Big Data as the Haystack and Analytics as the means to find the needle. If the Haystack is smaller, you are far more likely to find the needle.

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