Big data hype - is BI still relevant?

Firstly, data on its own is of no use. No matter if it is big or not. Second, big data doesn’t necessarily mean big/high returns. Too much has been said and written about big data. It is time people realize Today’s big data is tomorrow’s normal data. At the end it is just data that was earlier not captured, stored, processed and used for analysis which currently can be done with technological advancement.

Business can gain insights from data using business intelligence solution(not referring just to the front end reporting tool but the whole solution). The source data for the BI solution could come from excel files or relational DB’s or xml files or log data or sensor data or something else. These are all the different types of data generated during the functioning of the business. Some are small in volume, less frequent, have defined structure, some are huge in volume, more frequent and semi-structured or unstructured and some have combination of these. Why give so much importance to the term “big data”? As I have mentioned, it is at the end, just data.

Using data to gain insights about business to improve business easily falls under the umbrella term business intelligence. So whether you use today’s traditional data to derive intelligence or you use the so-called big data to derive intelligence all of these falls under the term business intelligence. In the end BI is about deriving intelligence from data to help businesses make decisions that impact its business.

Ignore the hype and stick to the fundamentals. Tomorrow when people who fancy introducing new terms introduce something like very big data, very very big data, nasty data, shit data and what not data you won’t be lost you will still have the fundamentals that will always work.

To drive home the point, see this example

A business has various data sources let’s say user generated excel files, system generated csv files and xml files and data captured in databases (RDBMS), log data and sensor data.

You come in and say, I have experience only on xml files so lets derive intelligence only from xml files and ignore the rest.

Will this work for business? No.

So just treat it as another source of data from which insights can be derived and give it only that much importance as much it deserves. In some businesses the most important information is hidden in the User generated excel files and in some businesses it could be in sensor collected data, It depends on the type of business. I have seen some consultants suggesting big data analytics to companies who have not even looked at deriving insights from RDBMS and don’t currently have a big data source.


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