Max Snyder

Major: BBA MIS
Graduation: January 2019

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The Importance of Big Data

The first thing people need to know to understand big data is the difference between data and information. Data is raw unorganized facts such as numerical values, or symbols, while information is data that is given meaning (Abdullah 2014). An example of this relationship would be the color green. Just the color green is data, but when paired with context, like at a street light, it is given a meaning, which is go, and it becomes information. Big data is defined by its volume, velocity, and variety. Volume being the the amount of data that is being gained through many sources, such as social media or business transactions. Velocity is the rate of speed that data is being collected at, which in our time is massive due to technologies such as RFID allowing the collection of data to be as simple as running an item through a scanner. Variety being the many different types of data being collected, like structured numerical data, to unstructured data such as photos and videos (SAS). The topic of big data builds upon the topics covered in the 2502 Data Analytics class, such as data modeling and advanced data analytics using R. Learning how to craft data visualizations using Excel and R are both extremely useful skills in deriving meaning from big data and making business decisions accordingly.  

An example of big data in action would be how Target used big data to identify pregnant women so they can send them coupons. Target stores the data of all customer purchases in its database, which it then uses for association rule mining, to identify what products tend to sell together and what products lead to the purchase of other products. Target used this purchase data to identify expecting mothers in beginning of their second trimester based on their purchases of items such as lotion, cotton balls, and calcium supplements (Hill 2016). Their extremely accurate targeting of pregnant customers eventually led to an angry father entering Target demanding to know why his daughter was receiving coupons for baby clothes and cribs (Hill 2016). It turned out that Target knew the daughter was pregnant before the father because of her purchasing history.

Big data is an extremely useful tool for businesses as it allows for the prediction of customer behavior, which allows for better business decisions, leading to higher profits and overall more successful businesses.

Works Cited

What is Big Data and why it matters. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/big-data/what-is-big-data.html

data. BusinessDictionary.com. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from BusinessDictionary.com website: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/data.html  

Abdullah, B. (2014, April 22). Data and information. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.slideshare.net/buxooabdullah/data-and-information-33807344  

Hill, K. (2016, March 31). How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did. Retrieved April 23, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/  


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