Companies around the world are a buzz with talk of big data. There’s data all around us, created by companies and by consumers. It can offer insights and give companies the information they need to be a step ahead of their competitors. It’s a classic scenario where knowledge is power, and there is plenty of knowledge out there for the taking. Sounds perfect, right?

The Problem with Big Data

These masses of data can be incredible tools …if they’re used correctly. The problem is, the expanses of data available are hard to collect and store and then interpret on such a huge scale if we stick to the current methods that are in place. This is creating a lot of tension in the professional and personal world.

With the huge amounts of data out there, it’s not surprising that there is some trouble collecting it. Here are some ways that companies can collect data and use it in more effective ways:

  • Business Intelligence Software: First and foremost, BI reporting software is a business’ best friend. It can retrieve data (often stored in a data warehouse), analyze, and create a comprehensive report.
  • Smart Text: This tool uses a template to create summaries of business performance, issues, and opportunities.
  • Data Mining: In order to find patterns in large sets of data, data mining tools are used.
  • Intelligent Business Alerts: Rather than looking for patterns, IBA looks for breaks in trends which could indicate threats or business opportunities.
  • Extract, Transform, and Load: ETL is the process of extracting data from a source, transforming and normalizing, and integrating or loading it into the target.

Other Problems with Data

The problems don’t just arise with the methods of collecting data, but with what data is collected, where it’s stored (and who can see it), and how the data is interpreted. With so much data being stored, it’s reasonable that people become concerned with their personal privacy. For example, the CIA is keen on collecting as much information as possible, including content from things like texts and emails. Whether this is a matter of safety or a matter of distrust between government and citizens is up for debate, but the same tension is showing up on smaller levels, such as between employers and employees.

There usually isn’t harm in having information, but collecting data on such a large scale has proven to present some problems. Having this data at hand– as companies, governments, and as individuals– presents a great deal of responsibility, and how data is collected, stored, and interpreted can either accelerate us forward or harm us in the end.

Written by Drew Hendricks