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You’ve probably heard of “big data,” but do you understand what it really means to your business? Big data is known not only for the amount of the data being collected but the way in which it can queried and used.

Data Warehousing

Most companies collect related data on a number of related, but separate systems. One of the benefits of a proper data warehousing setup in a case like this is that aggregation of the data provides for more efficient queries. Also, access to the production data is made during off-peak hours. This avoids bogging down the server which uses the production data to serve customer transactions.

Complex Queries

One of the problems with traditional database structure in the past has been that data had to be rigidly formatted in advance for the types of queries that were expected. For example, if you needed to find customers who had spent above a certain lifetime value, you had to have calculated that value and placed it in the database ahead of time. But techniques associated with big data allow you to make intermediate queries that will create the data you’re looking for so that it can be properly sorted and classified.

A Single Source of Truth

Combining data from various systems is just the start. Once the data is aggregated, it needs to be refined and normalized so that it can be compared correctly. For example, one system might store sales data by the week while another stores it by the month, so the data needs to be benchmarked to consistent indexes. The process of combining all data into a single set of databases allows it to be a “single source of truth” for all reports to be run against.

Big data promises to provide numerous benefits to your business. Properly set up, it allows you to learn things about your business you never suspected.

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