Big Data

Is Big Data a genuine opportunity for businesses or just the latest hype?

Thomas Bosshard
  • Thomas Bosshard


  • Big Data

Interestingly, the hype around big data conceals the fact that is not a new phenomenon. Statisticians have been analyzing data for centuries.  However, more and more businesses are integrating big data into their business strategies. With the emergence of business intelligence solutions, what until recently been seen as an overwhelming challenge, especially for an existing IT infrastructure drowning in data, is now increasingly considered an untapped opportunity. More and more businesses are using data-driven intelligence to support decision making and business process innovation.

Although big data might not be the revolutionary transformation some proponents like to describe it as, there undoubtedly are a lot of success stories. One example is Canada’s largest newspaper The Globe’s pay-wall project. In an effort to increase their digital subscriber base, analysts mined huge sets of clickstream data in order to determine when to charge visitors for access. This decision was critical: if they set the bar too high, there would not be enough paying viewers, whereas if it was set too low, too many casual readers might not return and thus diminish advertising revenue. The result was “a whole lot of numbers” that had no meaning unless efficiently visualized. A SAP HANA and Hadoop in the Cloud solution delivered the insights business needed to make the critical pay-wall decision.

A widely discussed example of how to derive insights from big data is President Obama’s winning re-election campaign which relied heavily on data science. As part of its fundraising efforts, the campaign’s backroom analysts explored vast demographic databases to determine which groups of people were most likely to donate. They discovered that “West Coast females ages 40 to 49” were most likely to respond to a chance to win a dinner with George Clooney whereas the East Coast equivalent was Sarah Jessica Parker. Both contests raised millions of dollars.

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