Data science news

Big Data means Advanced Data Visualization

Firms are realizing the importance of visualization tools because employees are unable to pick out important patterns in data without data visualization. Forrester points out that “numbers on a grid often does not convey the whole story and in the worst case, it can even lead to a wrong conclusion.” Ever tried to cram a bunch of data on a single screen in the hopes that it will be easier to read? You can only fit so much. Visualizations help cure that problem. How about data overload? You know, rows and rows of excel columns; it can get pretty daunting and quite frankly difficult to analyze. “Fitting in and analyzing hundreds of thousands of columns of attributes is an enormous challenge.”

We’re seeing the development of new data visualization techniques, what Forrester  is referring to as Advanced Data Visualization (ADV).

Is the BI Market Opportunity Understated?

According to Gartner, Business Intelligence (BI) was the second-fastest growing enterprise software market in 2011, with 16.4 percent year-over-year sales growth (from $10.5 billion to $12.2 billion). IDC projects the business analytics software software market will reach $33.9 billion in 2012.

But are market sizing projections understated? Potentially missing from growth forecasts is that the end-user base for BI tools is exploding, from a relatively exclusive group of IT professionals and data scientists to a market of millions of everyday business users. The reason: BI tools are becoming easier to use, making them accessible to the masses. In short, BI tools are becoming consumerized.

“In the future, analytics and caring about data will become a part of everyone’s job,”  says Caleb Poterbin, head of marketing at analytics software provider Chartio.

Local Governments: Ready for Big Data?

Alistair Croll (principal analyst at Bitcurrent) singled out recently the public sector or what he called “civil engineering” as one of three spaces to watch for a big data impact. Said Croll: “I think municipal data is one of the big three for several reasons: it’s a good tie breaker for partisanship, we have new interfaces everyone can understand, and we finally have a mostly-connected citizenry.”

For the federal level, Mark Weber issued a reality check: “As is the case with most emerging technologies, rhetoric often outpaces adoption. A recent survey of more than 150 federal IT professionals conducted by Meritalk on behalf of NetApp highlights enthusiasm within the federal government to leverage big data to support government mission outcomes.‘The Big Data Gap’ survey reveals that just 60 percent of IT professionals say their agency is analyzing the data it collects and a modest 40 percent are using data to make strategic decisions. All of this despite the fact that a whopping 96 percent of those surveyed expect their agency’s stored data to grow in the next two years by an average of 64%.”

There are of course some initial success stories, for example the use of big data to assist law enforcement agencies in fighting crime. But before we see the promised potential realized, a solid IT foundation has to be built and the specific questions big data could answer or the optimal government sector activities it can improve must be defined.

Patching the Leaky Sales Pipeline with Data Analytics

Insurers employing outbound marketing programs must effectively manage lead generation costs to successfully maintain consistent profitability. In the past, insurance companies utilizing outbound lead generation and customer management programs often found themselves lacking the level of real-time data required to strategically determine the next steps for their business. Sales should flow around real-time data analytics based on conversion rates by product, representative, source, day and time as well as team and individual agent execution. To answer that need, insurance companies should implement an analytical system to create the actionable intelligence that can increase lead conversion.

Today, insurance companies can arm their sales team with conversion and agent performance statistics that can increase the speed and success of the entire sales pipeline. Implementing data analytics software could be the glue needed to ensure that no stellar sales leads fall through the cracks.

Changing the World: Big Data and the Cloud

We are in an age when jobs like “data scientist” are not far from reality. The convergence of two key technological areas cloud computing and big data are having far reaching implications that indeed are changing the world.

It’s leading to the discovery of new drugs to cure diseases; predicting weather patterns more accurately (even predicting earthquakes?), finding better ways to use and save water, and so on. These are many of the ideas and projects that IBM has advanced with its Smarter Planet initiative, which has cloud computing and big data technologies at its core.

The Cloud computing model is a perfect match for big data since cloud computing provides unlimited resources on demand. Just two years ago I was delivering presentations to introduce professionals and students to this new model. Today, cloud is a given, most IT people understand what it is, and many are using it in their jobs.

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