Novelist Ayn Rand once said, “The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.” In this Rack59 blog, we hope to give you some ideas for sources of data you might not be considering. Big data is the ability of organizations to harness data sets previously believed to be too big to handle. Big data is the reason Wal-mart can handle more than 1 million transactions every hour and more than 30 billion pieces of content can be shared on Facebook each month.

In the past, harnessing this data was too costly and inconvenient, but that’s no longer the case. We can provide you affordable big data management that will take your business to the next level. There are usually unexplored opportunities in utilizing big data in every business.

To stay ahead of the competition, businesses have to constantly evaluate what practices are successful and failing. Whether you know it or not, the answer can usually be found in your own data. Big data analytics can help businesses answer a lot of tough questions like:

  • Should we enter a new market?
  • How can we increase sales and profitability?
  • Should we hire right now?
  • Should we make investments in the business?

Different approaches to big data analytics can help businesses in different ways. It helps to first identify what questions you want answered. Here are a few approaches to big data that can help you answer your questions:

Association Rule Learning
This method helps businesses discover interesting correlations between variables in large databases. Large supermarket chains were the first ones to utilize this strategy. They used extensive sales data to determine consumer purchasing habits. Using this method, they could identify if people who purchase tea are more or less likely to purchase carbonated drinks. This method can help extract information about visitors to websites from web server logs, analyze biological data to uncover new relationships and monitor system logs to detect malicious activity in your database.

Regression Analysis
This method involves manipulating some independent variable to see how it influences a dependent variable. For example, how does the presence or absence of store background music affect overall time spent in the store. Dating websites are using this approach to help you find the love of your life. Regression analysis can be used to determine how customer satisfaction affects customer loyalty, how the weather affects support calls received or web traffic and how the neighborhood affects housing list prices.

Machine Learning
Companies like Netflix and Amazon rely on this method to endear themselves to their customer base and even small businesses can find usefulness in this technology. This method is how Netflix knows what movies to recommend. This involves software that can learn from data. Computers have the ability to make predictions based on established properties learned from sets of example data. This can help businesses recommend products based on user information and determine what content successfully engages prospects.