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Big Data Analytics: Just a new business fashion? Maybe not!

In the past decade technology has increasingly became part of our daily lifestyle affecting in a positive or negative way, our day-to-day routine. However, looking at the bigger picture, more important has been the impact of technology on business in all its matters. Since the inception of computers in business related functions, multi megabyte, gigabyte and lately terabyte storage systems have been employed to store key business information: sales data, growth rates, market trends, performance appraisals and so on (the list could probably fill several pages). In addition and more recently, the introduction of new technologies such as social media or smart contents brought in an almost completely new dimension of information. In fact, while the former traditional typology of data is defined as structured, the latter more recent, it’s commonly defined as unstructured. Thus, given these two definitions, what is big data? In simple words it is the merge of structured and unstructured data and its consequent analysis aimed at providing a better understanding of business matters and helping the decision making process. However, some might reasonably question why the effort of this big analysis should matter to their businesses. The following examples will hopefully answer this question. The well known management consulting firm McKinsey analysed a large retailer and estimated, through the use of big data analytics in full, an increase of operating margin of more than 60%. Also, a conjoint study of several private and public organizations estimated savings of $200 billion by the US Healthcare System due to the use of big data to drive efficiency and quality. If this is not enough, this last example will convince you of the usefulness of big data. On a more consumer and economic viewpoint, it has been proved that the use of big data to analyse the large amount of “personal-location data” is able to generate a $600 billion surplus receiving the right information at the right time according to your location. As can be seen from the above examples, the applications of big data analytics result extremely broad and the benefits are brought to businesses of any kind as well as consumers. Big data analytics will quickly become a key competitive advantage leverage. Most likely, the most responsive businesses to use big data analytics to drive key decisions will be the top players of the near future.

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