What is Big Data and Do I Have It?

DashboardFox - Big Data

Not exactly sure what big data is? You’ve got plenty of company. At 5000fish we’re frequently asked “What is big data?” and “Is DashboardFox a big data solution?” The truth is there’s a lot of hype surrounding big data, and even within the industry, big data’s meaning and its significance are feverishly debated.

If you want to learn more about what big data is, and isn’t, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll separate big data facts from fiction, and give you information to answer the question, “Does my company need a big data solution?

Fact #1: Big data exists, but it’s less prolific than you think

The fact is, big data exists, but it’s less common than vendors and the media leads you to believe. In fact, our estimate is much less than 10 percent of businesses have big data. Let’s shed some light on what qualifies data as “big data.”

What’s the definition of big data?

Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, laid out one of the first well-accepted descriptions of big data using a “3Vs” model. Gartner describes big data as having not just one, but all of the following “V” characteristics:

Volume. Volume refers to the quantity of data an organization generates or wants to analyze. The term “big” in big data relates to the size or volume of data under consideration. Typically, the volume of data is so massive that traditional data processing applications can’t process it.

Variety. When it comes to big data, the term “variety” refers to the substantial diversity of data sources and the assortment of data itself (both structured and unstructured data such as emails, videos, and social media).

Velocity. In this context, velocity relates to the speed at which data flows in from sources like business processes, networks, and social media sites. The velocity, or flow of data, is massive and constant.

Although not an original Gartner characteristic, Veracity is commonly added as a fourth “V.” Veracity refers to the biases and abnormalities in big data which can make it challenging to analyze.

Fact #2: Big data is overhyped and badly misunderstood.

Unfortunately, in an effort to sell, sell, sell big data has been overhyped by business intelligence vendors. Capitalizing on the red-hot buzzword, vendors will lead you to believe your company not only has big data, but you’d be foolish not to use their pricey big data solution to analyze it ASAP. Don’t believe the sales pitch.

Fact #3: Data does not have to be “big” to be important.

We’re a data analytics company, but we’re the first to admit that your organization probably doesn’t have big data. Instead, you have what we refer to as “important data.” And we believe by using the right business intelligence solution, your important data can be leveraged to help streamline processes, boost profit margins and improve productivity.

Fact #4: Big data often comes with a big price tag.

If you’ve looked into some of the traditional big data solutions, like SAP, IBM, Sisense and even some newer entrants such as Splunk, Domo, and Teradata, you know they aren’t cheap. In fact, the mere mention of big data drives the price to a level that’s cost-prohibitive for the majority of small, medium and even large businesses.

Fact #5: Your company may benefit from a big data solution.

We’ve met with more than one decision-maker who embarked on a big data initiative without properly evaluating it- and experienced disastrous results. Not only did they spend a huge sum of money, the “solution” didn’t provide the ROI they were expecting. That said, some organizations do have big data, and for them, a big data solution may be a helpful tool.

If your company is reaching the scale of LinkedIn or Netflix, there’s a good chance you have big data, and DashboardFox probably isn’t the right fit. Business intelligence tools such as Microstrategy or Sisense are designed specifically for big data situations and could be the solution you need.

Fact #6: A handful of innovative data analytics companies offer an alternative.

Once you cut through the hoopla of big data vendors, you’ll discover a handful of up and coming data analytics companies like DashboardFox, Yurbi, Microsoft Power BI, Chartio, Google Data Studio. These companies offer innovative and affordable technologies and tools to help small, medium and large business leverage their important data. And they’re powerful too. For example, DashboardFox can analyze millions of rows of data in just a few seconds. So even if you have a very large repository of data, DashboardFox can handle the task.

How Can DashboardFox Help?

While we don’t pitch DashboardFox as a big data solution, it can handle very large data sources.  The key is your use case and how your end-users need to access that data.

DashboardFox provides an interactive approach to dashboards and reports.  You design a high-level, summarized view of data so that end users can see the top view of their business process or component, and make decisions.   Regardless of how much data you have, running a query to bring back summarized and aggregated data is fast and easily handled by your database.

From this high-level dashboard, users are able to filter, or do data segmentation, to further refine the data into smaller slices.  Perhaps looking at data over time ranges or by location or any other parameter that helps make decisions.  Because we are adding even more qualifiers to the database query, this is fast and efficient, regardless of your database size.

Lastly, DashboardFox’s intelligence drill-down feature allows a user to click on any defined data grid, KPI, or data visualization so they can launch a target report that provides a deeper view of the high-level summary.   Any filters that have been applied at the dashboard or parent report level dynamically gets applied to the target report.   So the query of the large database is precise and focused.

No web-based reporting tool can pull back 10’s of millions of records into a data grid.  The client machine would run out of memory and just think about Chrome when you try to open more than 10 tabs,  Javascript just can’t handle that.  Not even Microsoft Excel, a desktop app, can handle that well.  So even if you have very large data,  the goal of the BI tool is to allow you to generate summarized and high-level slices of that data which are relevant to your end-users, while allowing them to explore the data without overloading their systems. This is what DashboardFox provides when you have big data, whether it’s large in quantity or simply important to your business.

And if you are worried about users accidentally creating open-ended queries in there DashboardFox Composer that could potentially bring your database to a screeching halt,  you can leverage the data-level security feature to apply a policy on users that force them to a restriction of only seeing X months worth of data so they won’t accidentally bring back the entire history of transactions.

The best feature, the price.  Instead of paying an arm and a leg for so-called “big data” solutions,  with DashboardFox you pay a reasonable one-time fee for life and have access to a powerful self-service BI tool for all your business users.

The bottom line is: If you don’t have big data, you don’t need a big data solution.

If you’d like to learn more about DashboardFox and/or big data, contact us so we can discuss your requirements.

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