Special report: Turning big data into business insights (free PDF)

This ebook, based on the latest ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature, looks at how businesses are using the data they collect to stay competitive, save money, boost profits, and power digital transformation.

From the ebook:

We live in an increasingly data-driven society, in which information is becoming as much of a currency as money. Many consumers use free services from internet giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, for example, and in return allow these corporations to track and monetise their online behaviour.

One of the biggest questions of the day is the openness of such transactions, and the level of control that individuals have over the fate of the personal information they—sometimes unwittingly—divulge to organisations with which they interact online. Recent votes on both sides of the Atlantic have highlighted the capacity for data-savvy organisations to hoover up and profile large amounts of user data—including demographics, consumer behavior, and internet activity—in order to micro-target adverts, news stories, and services in support of particular goals or causes.

Clearly, the data floodgates are now opening for businesses of all sizes and descriptions, bringing myriad opportunities for timely analysis in pursuit of competitive advantage. Although the focus is currently slanted towards customer behaviour, data is available at multiple points in the product or service supply chain and comes in many forms—traditional (structured), ad hoc (unstructured), real time, and IoT–or M2M-generated, to name but a few.

Companies that implement big data analytics successfully can reap rich rewards from cost-saving efficiencies and revenue-generating innovations. This can help businesses achieve a digital transformation, allowing them to maintain competitiveness in the face of any disruptive startups—which are data-driven almost by definition—that spring up in their markets.

However, useful business insights don’t automatically flow from a torrent of heterogeneous information: Actionable data must be identified, organized, and analysed, and the results implemented across relevant parts of the business. That requires planning, budget and the right tools and expertise.

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