December 5, 2017

A Quick Guide to Big Data & Your Career

Debora Pesci

During the past two years, more data has been created than during the entire history of the human race. It is no surprise, then, that big data is a hot topic: every business has to deal with massive amounts of data and needs to find ways to manage this data.

Big data, as a concept, was invented in the early 2000s by Doug Laney, an industry analyst. Ever since, it has only become more important as we create more and more data – by 2020, 1.7 megabyte of new information is created every second!

In this blog, we’ll introduce you to the basics of big data and share a secret tip that sets you up for a successful career in this dynamic field.

big data career

What is big data?

In a nutshell, big data is a large amount of data, structured or unstructured, coming from both traditional and digital sources. The importance of big data, however, is not its amount, but rather what we can do with it. Big data allows us to analyze behavior and recognize trends, which enables us to take better decisions and create more effective strategies. For example, to increase sales of a product, businesses can analyze their sales data with a combination of the reviews their products received and the profiles of the people that left these reviews.

Big data is collected as raw data, and must be processed before it can be analyzed. This is one of the things that differentiates big data from ‘normal’ data. This difference can be defined through the three Vs:

  • Volume: Big data is big because of the sheer amount of data collected. Exponentially growing amounts of data are being collected from a multitude of sources such as online behavior or location insights.
  • Velocity: Data streams incredibly fast and new technologies are managing nowadays to deal with torrents of data in a near-real time.
  • Variety: Data is stored in different formats coming from various sources. either structured (like organized traditional data in databases) or unstructured (like social media posts, emails, video, or audio) formats.

Why is it important?

The amount of data created and stored is massive and grows exponentially. The usefulness of big data lies in the insights it gives us. Through analysis we can take better or more strategic decisions, or solve problems faster and more efficient. This information is invaluable for businesses!

On top of this, the analysis of data allows products to be developed cheaper, faster and more efficiently. This benefits big and midsized businesses, because they can:

  • Identify the causes of issues and failures in near-real time;
  • Speed up processes, like for example the recalculation of a risk portfolio;
  • Identify fraud before it will affect the company.

Along these lines, not analyzing data from –for instance– the social networks, this could lead to big losses in a company. Big data matters for businesses, and this is reflected in the skills they require from their employees.

big data career

How does it work?

Once data is stored, we can either analyze all data or only analyze a part of it.

For example, if you’re creating a marketing campaign promoting a new perfume, you’d only want to analyze the data that’s relevant for your campaign: you are interested in what your target group thinks, likes, and wants. If you create a campaign promoting a new fragrance for women, you may not be interested in what the most popular TV show among men aged 20-25 is, because it seems irrelevant. You are, however, interested in what perfume-wearing women want. You can use the data available to create a strategy for your marketing campaign.

Because of its volume, velocity and variety (remember the three V’s!), big data cannot be processed in the same way ‘regular’ data is. Processing big data requires specialized tools and storage. Big data requires a specific infrastructure. Consequently, employers are looking for people with specific big data skills.

Your career in big data

More and more businesses are discovering the importance of big data when it comes to growing business. For this reason, they need experts that can use the new technologies that deal with big data management and analysis. Considering the high demand for skilled people in big data management, big data offers interesting career opportunities for people of all backgrounds. Building a career in this exciting field is a real possibility! Are you interested in a career in big data, but not entirely sure where to start?

Start your career in Big Data today!

Curious how? Watch our free webinar on Big Data and your career.

Register on Academy Cube and start working towards a successful career in Big Data today!