Analyzing data has long been seen as a sound strategy for drawing conclusions about the world and even making decisions about the future. The problem has historically been that it requires a lot of data to draw reliable inferences and it can be time consuming and expensive to collect sufficient data.
Big Data Creates Opportunities—and Challenges
The concept of “big data” has ushered in tremendous opportunities for data analysis as well as a paradigm shift in how and when large-scale data analysis is used. Big data can be defined as, “data that contains greater variety, arriving in increasing volumes and with more velocity. This is also known as the three Vs.”
Big data is inextricably linked to the increased digitization of everyday life. For example, in the mid-20th century, it would be a significant undertaking to gather data on the purchasing decisions of individuals or to draw inferences about future purchasing decisions based on what advertisements the individual encounters. In 1960, a consumer might see a billboard sign for a new suit and go into a store that same day and pay cash for such a suit, with potentially zero record of the entire process. Today, so much of that activity is tracked online, from how long an internet user lingers on an online ad to where, when and for how much they made the eventual purchase.
Data Literacy a Critical Skill
The amount and variety of data that’s now available on virtually every facet of modern life is staggering and rife with opportunities; but the “bigness” of big data is a double-edged sword. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in a seemingly endless sea of data if one doesn’t know how to use it. That’s where the training need comes in.
According to a “Lead with Data” report, only 24% of business decision makers surveyed are fully confident in their data literacy and 78% have an appetite to learn and are willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skill sets.
Big data is a concept that has enticed novices with promises of tremendous insights into consumer behavior, industry trends and market dynamics; however, the volume, variety and velocity of that data means those who aim to leverage it need to be well-trained in how to do so.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.