Sunday, January 27, 2013

Big data: why students need to know about it?

I have never thought that I would be interested in researching to understanding more about big data until I take the Web analytic class. Why? Because, I think its name is annoying and it sounds like something far more in future for me to worry about it at this time. But I can never be more wrong of ignoring to understand about big data and how it sets the trends for IT industry as we are moving toward in 2013.

We are living in an information-based arena where technology has became very efficient and widely available to help us achieve and take advantage of the information.  Therefore, understanding big data and how to use it will optimize students' opportunities to their job hunt upon graduation.

 What is big data?

Wikipedia defines the term big data, from software engineering and computer science perspective, is to describe data sets that grow so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.

(courtesy of

SAS looks at big data as a popular term used to described the exponential growth, availability and use of information, both structured and unstructured.

So big data is a buzzword that is used to describe a massive volume both both structured and unstructured data that is so large and difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques. When companies are dealing with this larger data sets, they are facing difficulties in being able to create, manipulate, and manage the data.  Big data is particularly a problem in business analytic because standard tools and procedures are not designed to search and analyze the volume of big data.

How does big data sets trends for analytics moving forward?

In 2012, big data became the topic headlined that industry-related conferences and media couldn't get enough of it, it brought new buzz in IT industry as well as skepticism.  Many were wondering at what point that we actually get big data, and if we do, what are we going to do with it.  Even with much skepticism, experts agreed that big data exists while questioning about its significance and lack of focus.

Moving in to 2013, businesses will spend time to figure out ways to tap into the value of big data by studying what it is and isn't  the challenges it presents, its value, and how they will need to evolve to take on the advantages – both architecturally and culturally.

As Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI) categorizes big data is one of the top three analytics trends for 2013, which "help enterprises deliver the data and capabilities they need"

The use of big data will become a key basis of competition and growth for companies; they need to take big data seriously to boost their competition advantages, thus the growth.  From the standpoint of competitiveness, firms will leverage data-driven strategies to innovate, compete, and capture value from deep and up-to-real-time information.  Therefore the ability to capture, process and use of structured and unstructured, simple and complex in a timely fashion will give companies the advantage in the leading its industry.  Furthermore, knowing how to optimize the use of big data offers considerable benefits to the companies’ productivity growth and consumer surplus. For example, a retailer that is using big data to capture data based on transaction or loyalty to make informed decision about pricing, promotions, and assortment management. They can then make marketing investments where it is really matter. 

How big data creates value for organizations?

There are several ways in which using big data can bring values:

Firstly, as it name implies, big data adds value by making information transparent and usable at a very high frequency.  Companies can collect data in it raw form, structured and unstructured at a high volume and in-real-time, which they can process and analyze to extract valuable information to use.

Secondly, nowadays, organizations create and store transaction data in digital forms at a high capacity, thus they can collect more accurate and detailed performance information on everything from product inventories to human resources functions.  Therefore, retrieving and formatting the collected data is much easier for management to expose and use the data with variability to make strategic decisions and boost performances.

Thirdly, big data give companies the ability to segment their customers and focus on individual groups. This feature enables them to precisely tailor their products and services that focus to the specific needs of the each groups, which in turn, promotes growth.

Fourthly, easy access to data and the availability of data analytics tools allow companies to perform sophisticated analysis of the data which substantially improve informed decision making process.

Lastly (but not least), big data can be used to improve the development of the next generation of products and services. This will help companies to gain the advantage in industry’s competitiveness.

Why MSIS should pay more attention in big data?

Big data will soon master across sectors and employers are poised to gain substantially from the use it.  While the idea of big data is still evolving, there will be a shortage of talents necessary for organizations to take advantage of it.  The demand of moving forward is to have workers with deep analytical skills as well as knowledgeable analysts with know-how-to use the analysis of big data to help managers to make effective decisions for their businesses.

Companies in all industries now starting to understand that they need to make better sense of the massive data set at their disposal, such as computer log files, social networking sites, digital video or audio, etc., thus, this led to the high demand for data analytics jobs for individuals who understand how to display or visualize the collected raw information and turn it into valuable information for them to use.

(courtesy of

Reading to this point, a reader is wondering what is the salary that a big data analyst would make? According to, the start out average salary for big data jobs in Utah is $59,000 and the national average is $65,000. But as you become a senior analysis with years of experience, he/she could earn up to $112,000 a year.  A data analyst could work for retail chains such as Walmart, Costco, Dillard's  etc. or be an independent consultant. The sky has no limit. 

So what skill set that is necessary for a big data analysts that employers are looking for?

Well, with a degree in Technology, Data analysis, Information Management, Business Intelligent or Statistic is a good start.  In addition, become proficient in using a range of software application will help a Data Analysts to perform their jobs in a comprehensible way.  Know how to use software programs such as SAS analytical and programming tools, use of Excel complicated functions, presentation software, basic understanding of computer hardware and software, Statistics, and math will add value to the candidate's qualification for the job.

The demand for hiring college graduates who has the skill and experience in processing and evaluating multiple information streams is increasing in both private industry and public policy arenas.  As companies start to realize the potential benefits of big data they will need managers who have the ability to sift through information, solve business problems, and strategize.

There is no doubt that we are living in an information-based economy.   To success in it, we as the students need to be adept not only at managing massive amounts of information but also at determining what is relevant, knowing how to incorporate it into the strategic decision making and problem solving.  We need to know how to take advantage of these skills and knowledge to develop new products, improve service and productivity, and possibly create new jobs and businesses.



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. Hope this help student in preparing and narrowing down what they want to do once they are graduated. - Christine

  2. Thanks. Hope this help students who want to be in a data analyst field - Christine

  3. Awesome! I will have all 3 of my teenagers read this!!!

  4. I run a nail salon in Riverton, and a lot of my business now a day come from posting nail design on Facebook. Every week Facebook send me an analysis such my page insights about how many percentage of which ages of clients visited my page; or what time of posting my posts has numerous responses. I did understand and use this data yes. After I read this article now I would take advantage of those valuable information. Thanks much. Keep it up doing good works.

    1. Thanks. Have you ever thought building a website and use Google analytic to help you identify your website's traffic? Facebook is one of the social media tool to expose your business, but you can expose more to other markets too and google analytic will help you identify your referral sources. CN

  5. Right now Big Data is a big buzz term in the startup world, and eventually I believe that frenzy will simmer down a bit. However, that doesn't undermine how vitally important Big Data is to the future of how we interact on mobile and online. Very well done!