Forbes – If Big Data’s Too Scary, Try Little Data (It’s Free)
By Raj Sabhlok
April 11, 2013
Here are some stats that will blow your mind: Every minute of every day, 48 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube, Google receives over 2 million queries, over 100,000 tweets are sent and nearly 600 new websites are created. Perhaps most shocking is that quietly in the background, all of this data is tracked and stored. But what happens to it after that?
Obviously, today’s Internet is filled with vast amounts of data. When only a few short years ago a search would yield varied results, today search engines, social networks and even advertisers have realized that information must be culled, filtered and targeted for their consumers. In order to do this, many of these services collect data about you. While it can feel creepy, only showing you relevant information can also save you time and reduce information-related frustration.
It’s really no different from our personal lives. Many researchers claim that too much information can lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety. It doesn’t take an expert to tell me how I feel when I walk into a cluttered office with stacks of unfiled paperwork on my desk.
Conversely, when I finally clean my office and put things in their rightful place, my anxiety turns to calm. Life feels very different when I have the documents, the phone numbers or the disk that I need right when I need it.
The fact is, the right data and the right time not only reduce stress but also boosts your productivity. And that goes for your company too. Especially since data growth for the average company is expected to increase by 650 percent over the next five years.
Businesses must approach data in a similar manner you would your personal life — cull and filter corporate data to meet your needs. I’m not talking about Big Data, with all the positive and negative associations that go with it. You can call it Little Data if you want. But the key point is that the data for this kind of actionable analytics is already available in most companies right now — it’s just not being leveraged.
You see, it doesn’t have to take a Big Data project to get valuable information out of your technologies. A lot of actionable analytics can (and should) come from the vendors that are already providing your network, systems, devices and applications.
For example, IT organizations can use Little Data in the form of the machine data generated by their systems to predict potential breaches to the corporate network. Think about it. Those applications currently used to monitor your network and user access capture huge amounts of data including the user name, their device information and location. But what can you do with it?
Say that your IT admin receives a report indicating a sales rep for New York has logged into the corporate network. However it’s 3AM…and he is apparently in Russia. That is actionable data and information that the security team should follow up on immediately. Or imagine if large amounts of data were suddenly being downloaded from your financial system by someone in customer service. IT would want to be alerted to that too.
It is important for every CIO to do a data health-check within his or her company. Having access to and leveraging this Little Data is equally as important as just having that data. You can understand what data you have and how it can help you without incurring any additional resources or costs.
Unfortunately, many companies are typically more focused on the bells and whistles and feeds and speeds than the reporting capabilities. When evaluating a technology, start thinking about things like its ability to capture data, provide robust canned reporting and ad hoc reporting capability. This actionable or Little Data will be the single most competitive differentiator a company can offer over the competition.
Otherwise, data will continue to grow exponentially in size — but not in value to you.
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