Making sense of big data

Part 2: The World of Big Data
Part 3: Big Data Gets Even Bigger
Part 4: Microsoft and Big Data… Worlds Collide

Making sense of big data

Enterprises like yours can generate, capture, and buy large amounts of information from multiple sources and use it to gain business insight, support business processes, and generate profit. This new capability, commonly referred to as big data, can help with tactical and strategic business issues primarily in these areas:

  • Customer analytics – driving product innovation, brand perception, market penetration, and the amount of customer spend, using new customer insight techniques

  • Risk and performance management – improving organizational performance and reducing risk in areas like regulatory compliance or financial projections and reporting through solutions that integrate multi-structured and real time data

  • IT business innovation – creating new IT services that offer tangible benefits to the business departments utilizing big data and cloud technology

If a big data solution is what your organization needs, cloud computing and commodity hardware have both dramatically reduced the cost of computational technologies and storage capacity, forever changing the economics of data processing. Even with these benefits, it’s important to consider two basic challenges when choosing the right solution:

  • Increasing data volumes – The annual growth of worldwide information volume is roughly 50 percent and rising. This explosion of new data is driven by traditional information (e.g., financial or business reports, statistical data, publications, web sites, customer records) and non-traditional sources (e.g., blogs, social, user profiles) gained from sensors, devices, and tools (such as web crawlers) that monitor and catalog content on the Internet.

  • Increasing complexity of data and analysis. – The real growth in data comes from unstructured data. This is primarily text from a range of sources such as websites (for example, log files and user click streams), apps, and, increasingly, device sensors. The proliferation of devices such as smartphones and tablets has created a new source of unstructured data that includes geographic location, text messages, browsing history, and (through accelerometers and GPS functionality) even motion, direction, and speech interaction. Analysis of this varied data enables organizations to provide insights into customer behavior and preferences, to the point of predicting needs, intentions, and even moods.

Earlier-held presumptions that 80 percent of unstructured data has no value has been debunked by search engine providers and e-retailers who have unlocked its value. The business requirement to store, analyze, and mine a combination of structured and unstructured data is now the norm.

Big data solutions

A typical approach for driving business innovation through big data includes three basic components and Microsoft Services can help you across them all:

Infrastructure – A foundational infrastructure allows you to use, manage, and maintain large information sets. The infrastructure can be integrated into existing business intelligence (BI) and operational systems, and can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid combination.

  • For example, when the Union Bank of Israel needed to improve efficiency and data insight, it implemented a business intelligence solution based on the Microsoft platform. The solution includes a new portal and an updated data warehouse with 1 terabyte of data from mission-critical systems.

    "With the Microsoft BI solution, we have dramatically changed our culture. Managers can instantly analyze the same information in easy-to-use reports and dashboards, which help us see results faster," says Jonathan Bellisha, Chief Technology Officer.

Analytics – Big data enriches predictive analytics to improve day-to-day operations and tactical business decision making. Big data operational analytics use near real-time data (hot stream) and existing data (cold stream) to help guide agile and well-founded business action.

  • To give its advertisers more useful analytic advertising data and to increase data processing performance, Yahoo! partnered with Microsoft to implement a solution integrating the Yahoo! Hadoop data processing framework with Microsoft SQL Server. With improved advertising analytics gained from the new Microsoft solution, Yahoo! has seen major benefits in both advertising spending and campaign effectiveness.

  • To win the 2014 FIA Formula auto racing world championship, the Lotus F1 Team knew they needed to integrate their vehicle performance systems and manufacturing systems and collect metrics more efficiently. The team chose a Microsoft Dynamics solution to collect live, accurate information, make informed decisions, compete for funding, and ultimately, build a faster car.

Innovation – Big data and cloud technologies provide unique opportunities for IT organizations to examine and redefine their current services, establishing new creative ways for helping employees do their business better while enhancing operational efficiency.

  • Microsoft Services helped 343 Industries create an analytics solution that allowed developers and managers of the new Halo 4 game to mine the data and extract the intelligence (user preferences, behaviors, scoring, and so on) they needed to provide a phenomenal gaming experience.

Get started

Microsoft Services offers assessments and workshops to help you boost the performance of your current analytics systems and infrastructure. We can also help you consider new technologies that you could implement to turn information into insight in a way that helps drive the results you need.