5 Most Important Data Questions You Probably Didn’t Know To Ask

Shelly Dutton

When it comes to data volume, it seems like every business is touting big numbers that dwarf the largest library in the world, America’s Library of Congress. Wal-Mart handles more than a SAP SapphireNOW 2015, Orlando, USAmillion customer transactions each hour and imports that information into databases housing more than 2.5 petabytes of data. Researchers decoding the human genome analyze 3 billion base pairs in one week, which would have taken ten years back in 2003. Even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeing some action – with 20 terabytes of observational data produced every day by their satellite systems alone.

All of these examples tell the same story: The world is awash with data. Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated – and it’s happening at such a velocity that 90% of all data has been created in the last two years. Where is it all coming from? Look in the mirror – it’s our sensors; posts, pictures, and videos on social media; transaction records; cell phone GPS signals; and more.

And the flood is showing no sign of subsiding. In “Cisco VNI: Forecast and Methodology, 2014–2019,” Cisco reports that we will soon see global IP traffic surpass the zettabyte threshold by the end of 2016. Even more mesmerizing is the prediction of reaching two zettabytes per year in another three years.

The game plan: Understanding what you don’t know about your data

When you consider the volume of intelligence that is available to everyone, it’s easy to get excited about the opportunities in the business world. No longer are large conglomerates the only ones getting the upper hand when it comes to improving operations, seizing opportunities, and improving customer relationships. Now, even the smallest of startups are uncovering valuable insights and reaching customers across the world to capture the top spot in the market. Simply put, the playing field for all has been leveled.

As Internet access continues to grow, information becomes more democratized, decentralized, and meaningful. At the same time, concerns are increasing among the business community, such as:

  • How can I compete when it’s no longer clear who I’m competing against?
  • When did my customer start knowing more about me than I know about them?
  • How can I find the talent I need to solve the challenges I don’t even know I have yet?
  • When will my data stop reporting the past and start predicting the future?
  • How can I run simple in an increasingly complex world?

With the right strategy, the data revolution can become affordable and manageable for all companies – even the small guys.

Over the next few weeks, my colleagues and I will explore each of these common questions and provide tips for overcoming them. We hope our insights and perspectives will help your organization take better advantage of the data within your reach without fear of what’s lurking on the other side.

Looking for more insight on how technology is changing the business landscape? See The Future Of Work: Understand, Prepare, And Innovate.


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