Data Curation Is Taking Big Data To The Next Level

If used to the fullest extent, data curation can both preserve and improve and organization's data


By now, it’s pretty common knowledge that businesses have much to gain from using big data. Even if a company isn’t currently collecting and analyzing big data, they likely have some plan in the works to do so in the near future. It truly is the revolution many predicted years ago. 

So, while much of the focus is about big data right and the benefits using it provides, there is also a renewed emphasis in getting more out of it than what organizations have experienced so far. Add to that the growing complexity of big data, and more businesses are looking to improve data quality, making sure they can use it quickly and easily. To accomplish this, many data experts are recommending the adoption of data curation processes. If used to the fullest extent, data curation has the potential to truly take big data to the next level.

Simply put, data curation is the process whereby the value of data is preserved and even improved. Think of it in the same terms as curation for a painting or sculpture, ensuring the piece maintains its value and is preserved for future use. Collecting data has become a common practice for organizations, but it’s clear that the act of gathering information isn’t enough on its own to get the most out of big data.  Data curation takes that data and cleans it up, making it usable for multiple different types of business applications. Put another way, it makes data more versatile and flexible while still maintaining a high degree of quality. Big data suddenly becomes more useful, something most organizations definitely want.

Businesses have already experienced the difficulties that can arise from using big data as it is right now. All too often data is difficult to use in part because it’s a challenge to find. This also makes it difficult to share data across an organization. And considering how businesses usually use only a portion of the data they collect, much of their data goes to waste. Some of these problems can be alleviated through data cleaning, but that only puts a bandaid on a much larger wound. 

Data curation, however, is a much more effective prescription. Through data curation, the data businesses collect isn’t only cleaned, it’s properly annotated, enhanced, tagged, and organized in such a way as to make it more accessible for businesses to use. The typical data curator is able to take the data gathered from all sorts of different sources and integrates it in such a manner as to make it more valuable to the company as a whole. This aspect is especially important because big data often comes from a wide variety of sources, so compiling it in a more usable form increases its value automatically.

The way data curation improves big data isn’t only seen among businesses; it has become particularly valuable for  research purposes . Even more so than a company, research requires high-quality data in all respects. Part of the reason data curation has become so indispensable is that research data should be something that is well documented and easily found for all who want to engage in the same research. Without that high level of organization offered from data curation, the data simply becomes inaccessible and difficult to validate. Only through data curation can the impact of research be maximized.

Some organizations may still wonder how best to actually implement data curation. There are a number of tips that can be followed, such as assessing data during regular data reviews. This will help determine which data may have long-term value and which data can be of most use now. Making sure businesses have the right tools on hand is a must, whether it be something like cloud computing or a data lake

Businesses should also set a standard over the data they collect that will help them identify if some of the data they have needs to be saved at all. Getting rid of the waste can go a long way toward increasing data value. And hiring a data curator is, of course, another excellent strategy that can help data teams tremendously. With this in mind, organizations of all types and sizes will have a strategy they can follow to integrate data curation as a normal process for using their big data, in turn getting more out of all the data they collect.

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