Big Data – that is not really a topic for small and medium-sized companies or is it?!

Big Data has already been a much discussed topic in 2012. Even a renowned CMS manufacturer and a provider of web analysis solutions did already take up this topic. Reason enough for us to take a look what’s behind this term and where we, as an online service provider, see points of contact, and further more to ask the following question: Is Big Data also a topic for small and medium-sized companies and non-online businesses?

But let’s begin with the question of what Big Data is in general: the term Big Data refers to especially big, mostly unstructured amounts of data that cannot be managed and processed or at least only insufficiently managed and processed with conventional database-systems or data management tools.

Where do these amounts of data come from?

Especially social networks and mobile internet usage are responsible for the worldwide growth of the amounts of data. Companies such as Facebook, Google or Amazon do collect huge amounts of data, due to billions of postings, images, Likes, product evaluations, etc. Facebook for example has a daily content of 2,5 billion, 2,7 billion Likes, and 300 million photos – that is a data volume of 500 terabyte every single day. And the worldwide accruing amount of data does currently double approximately every 18 months.
These are impressive numbers. But Big Data does not only accrue in social media or in trade, but also in all other industries, for example in the financial industry, the energy sector or science. Everywhere millions of users do leave new data of various formats every day: opinions and commentaries, photos and videos, transaction data for online purchases, GPS signals from mobile phones, and so on. At this point, for us as an online service provider, the information from the web, which we gather by means of analysis solutions or the CMS of the website and from the social networks, are of particular interest. When I take a look at our portfolio, the solutions of our partner for web-analysis, Webtrekk, comes to attention. Thus, Christian Sauer, managing director of Webrekk, gets a chance to speak in an interview.

Storage and protection of Big Data – a challenge

All these "Big Data" must be stored and protected on special computers, and, according to possibility, analyzed in a profitable way for the website-operator. Only then, insights about the development of user behavior may be gained, customer communication may be improved, saving potentials may be generated due to optimized processes or competitive advantages may be gained.

However, the systematic analysis of Big Data is at the very beginning regarding most companies, among other things, because the software development for the processing of such data volumes is still within the "alpha-stadium". Another important topic in this context is data privacy protection. Who controls the data and who sees to it that the data are not misused? Especially in the light of increasing data storage in the Cloud, these are important questions companies have to consider and deal with. When these obstacles are overcome, there are significant possibilities for new knowledge, provided that it succeeds to effectively process the continually increasing data stream.

In our article Big Data and the challenges for company-IT our partner Thomas Krenn, as a provider for server hardware, and our comspace IT-service approach the technical side of Big Data and the technical challenges due to vast amounts of data.

Big Data in the future

The future will show, if Big Data will also reach small and medium-sized businesses. Because even though companies see the potential in Big Data, according to a recent study by the Fraunhofer-Institut für Intelligente Analyse- und Informationssystem (Fraunhofer IAIS), data privacy protection and security concerns are considered to be the greatest problems (50%) regarding the application of Big Data, followed by the a lacking budget (43%).

The challenge for 2013 will first of all be to recognize entirely individual explicit business models and value-added advantages in the processing and analysis of Big Data, and to contrast these with the risks and the necessary budgets.

A practical example of how and in which different ways Big Data can be used is demonstrated impressively by New York City, which provides large amounts of information as OpenData publically and has thus inspired app. developers and companies to several helpful and successful projects.