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Data, Data, Everywhere

Paul Miniutti
Feb 12, 2014

Author: Paul Miniutti,

The new National Security Agency’s Data Warehouse Center outside of Salt Lake City, Utah spans 1.5 million square feet.  That’s enough space to fit over ten average sized Costco’s.  Some unconfirmed estimates put the data storage capacity at 500 million terabytes.  And that’s, well, a lot.

According to IBM, every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data.  When you consider that this blog post accounts for about one thousand bytes, do the math on that daily number, I dare you.

We are in a new era of data creation and consumption.  You may have heard of the term, “big data”, which refers to a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.  Or put another way - a “ginormous” amount of data.

There’s obviously a lot of data and a lot of things businesses can do with that data.  But data itself does not equate to intelligence.  The challenging part with big data is being able to produce useful analytics from it that provide real business value.  It is critical to constantly assess the value of the analytics produced.  There have been numerous reports that cite the difficulties businesses are having in producing a healthy ROI for the data warehouses they have built.  Some of the challenges include:

  • Infrastructure costs
  • Data security
  • Finding adequately skilled staff
  • And producing analytics that drift from providing useful information to helping drive the business. 

With big data the trick is to start small.  Understand the growth potential and infrastructure costs to securely support data growth. Prove that the technology you will use can be supported with your staff.  Analyze small subsets of the data to confirm the value it holds for your business.  And, put motivated, inquisitive, dedicated folks on the development team as the technology and analytics needed will surely change.

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