Big Data

7 tools to help your company get started with big data

Across virtually every industry, businesses are transitioning to a data-driven approach. But while many are good at collecting data, understanding it is tougher. These seven tools can help.

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Many businesses today are grappling with a big question: How can we manage our data? While collecting it is easy, analyzing and understanding big data is more complicated.

There's internal data, which could be structured data coming from charts and databases, or unstructured data, like metadata or text from emails. There's social media data, data collected from wearables or other IoT, data from web traffic—the list goes on and on. Finally, there's "big data"—the sweet spot that gathers all of the various strands together for a complete picture of what's going on.

Is your organization struggling to come up with a solution? With all the various tools available, many of which are free, it's worth trying different options before making a decision. It's also worth finding a solution that can manage a large and complex data set.

"These tools are becoming so easy and most of them have free trials," said Arijit Sengupta, CEO of BeyondCore. "You just throw the data in and see what happens."

SEE: Job description: Big data modeler (Tech Pro Research)

Here are some points to consider when looking at the tools:

  • What does the interface look like? How can users filter the data?
  • What are the security constraints?
  • Can the reports be represented graphically?
  • What does the provider offer in terms of upgrades? WIll they include new machine learning tools?

Now that you know what to consider, here are seven tools to help you get started with big data in your organization.

Sisense

Megan Beauchemin, director of business intelligence and analytics for InOutsource, likes Sisense, a cutting-edge tool that she says is great for data scientists who are interested in incorporating predictive models. "It contains everything an organization will require to prepare and analyze complex data sets," said Beauchemin. Its In-Chip technology "optimizes the use of computational resources, making it highly efficient and cost effective." The tool will also "allow for advanced analytics and statistics with their library of R functions."

SEE: Going Deep on Big Data (ZDNet)

TIBCO Spotfire

This data visualization and analytics tool can "handle data transformation efficiently and simply," said Beauchemin. "What I like most about Spotfire: It incorporates statistical functions to allow for deeper analysis and exploration of patterns and trends within the data."

Grow

This new tool "is powerfully simple and ideal for small to medium organizations looking to get started with data visualization and analytics," said Beauchemin. "It offers a simple way to pull scattered information together, at a reasonable price."

BeyondCore

"You can just go try a free trial for two weeks right on the net," said Sengupta. "If you want to analyze the data, throw it in there." It's one of the top tools listed in Gartner's "Smart Data Discovery" list. Here's how Gartner said it analyzed a huge health care data set: "BeyondCore evaluated one million variable combinations automatically to identify that these three factors in combination are significant drivers of cost. Dozens of similar interventions were also identified by the analysis and presented in order of expected impact. By focusing on actionable interventions with patients in this group to increase medication compliance, costs and outcomes can be improved. The analysis was done automatically and found in two hours what would have taken weeks or months to analyze manually. Moreover, the analysis was able to dispel preconceived notions regarding the specific drivers of cost and outcomes."

IBM Watson Analytics

This is a smart data discovery service available on the cloud. IBM, according to the Gartner report, "is creating awareness for this new class of capabilities through the early release and significant marketing efforts around Watson Analytics."

SAP Lumira

SAP is a leader in the field, with its strong advanced analytics. It also offers a free trial. Additionally, there are some nice visuals that come along with the reports.

SAS Visual Analytics

This is part of its new analytics and visualization structure called Viya, can help businesses understand, forecast, create reports, and do text analysis of their data, and more.

Here's Gartner's full list of tools:

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Image: Gartner

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About Hope Reese

Hope Reese is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the intersection of technology and society, examining the people and ideas that transform how we live today.

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