Big Data, Small Data and Apple Pie

Apple pie

Big Data, Small Data and Apple Pie

With fall comes the great harvest of apples in our home of the Pacific Northwest (where 80% of this country’s apples originate), and with it the best invention in American cuisine, the apple pie. At CorSource we think a lot about the pie and a lot about what goes into making the pie. Keep this in mind.

Several times a year, CorSource sponsors an insightful panel discussion and networking event of thought leaders from tech companies called Innovation in Motion. Last week, we had the pleasure of listening to experts from Puppet Labs, Zapproved, and our business intelligence partner Birst. The discussion primarily centered on mining data to improve sales, but also moved into the territory of understanding what Big Data really is. The conclusion? Big Data is made up of Small Data. In other words, in pie lingo, Big Data is a number of small ingredients. Businesses can leverage Big and Small Data in different ways that are both powerful, but today we are focused on Big Data.

We sense that for many attendees of Innovation in Motion, and a lot of CorSource consulting clients, Big Data can be difficult to grasp. This phrase is often presented in the business and tech industries like everyone knows what it means. In fact, often we do not understand its true meaning. Put simply, Big Data is the result of collecting an abundance of data from an abundance of separate sources. Once compiled a company has a massive warehouse full of information about their business and their customers.

Look at this under a microscope and it’s really a big mass of small data. The small data collected could be elements as broad as the website a person visits, how much inventory a company has of a particular item, what sales target a staff person reaches, what item is the most popular, comments on social media sites and so on. If you own a business you collect this. The key to Big Data, the point of collecting it into a warehouse, is to leverage all of it for business strategy. This is where the real benefit lies, and where ingredients become a cohesive and edible pie. “Edible”, that’s the key.

The best way to make strategic decisions of the highest value is with a business intelligence tool, which brings clarity to complex data. Big Data is not business intelligence; it’s just a lot of data mashed together. Business intelligence tools like Birst and WebFOCUS from Information Builders extract your data and bakes it into real time actionable information that’s presented on simple customizable dashboards. With this you can begin to understand the true trajectory and lifetime value of a customer – where they came from, what they were attracted to, how this resulted in a sale, what they bought, and over time how they continue to interact with your brand. Or you can understand the buying patterns of your brokered customers to predict how much inventory you need at any given point, and what resources you need to deliver it to them on time.

One of the best outcomes of implementing a business intelligence tool is that a massive amount of small data points become accessible in a relevant way to specific employee roles, like they never were previously. Your staff can begin noticing trends, and making objective, valuable decisions with confidence.

Need help making sense of Big Data and accelerating your business success? Contact a CorSource consultant at 800-545-6375 or drop us a message. Need a great apple pie recipe? Head to Epicurious, and remember the best crust is a homemade crust.

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