Big Data: Is Big Data a true game-changer or an overhyped scam?

by Dr. Sweety Gupta Chhabria, Assistant Professor in FOSTIIMA Business School- Delhi

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In 2024, big data analytics is one of the major news highlights in terms of technology. In today’s business environment, the term “Big Data” is a Buzzword promising immense potential and transformative power. Big Data refers to data both structured and unstructured that is available with corporates for predictive modeling and other analytics applications. Big Data has great potential for valuable insights, enhanced decision-making, and has the ability to revolutionize industries such as pharmaceutical, automobile, manufacturing, retail, fashion, entertainment to name a few. But the hype around it is too much to handle at times.  

The Benefits of Big Data

There is no doubt that big data offers tremendous advantages as it has the ability to transform raw data into meaningful information. If used wisely, it has potential to take businesses to greater heights in very less time. Some of the major advantages offered by big data are as follows:

1. Insightful Analytics: Big Data provides invaluable insights to corporates and helps them take leverage from these insights for segmented marketing, customer retention, customer acquisition, personalised marketing and process optimization by understanding the needs of each and every customer through different big data analytics applications. Its ability to transform data into valuable information should be leveraged by businesses to achieve higher profitability and job productivity.

2. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: In today’s time, every customer is generating huge information that needs to be analysed carefully. This vast amount of information can help in better understanding of every customer, thereby making a way for customised solutions catering to every customer. Through the understanding and customisation of each and every customer, the businesses can drastically increase the customer satisfaction. In this way, the business can really play an important role in customer retention, and help generate larger business volumes and higher profitability that is easy to sustain in the long run. 

3. Competitive Advantage: It has become increasingly difficult to survive in business these days due to the cut-throat competition. As such, data analytics can be of great help not only to survive in the industry but also to get a competitive edge over the competitors. Business can take great help from the data analysing capabilities of big data analytics. Not only, big data helpful in meeting the competition but it can be of great help in increasing the profitability of the business by reducing the overheads and boosting sales revenue. Big data also helps in analysing the marketing trends and product modifications can also be made accordingly. 

4. Feedback for Personalized Marketing: Customer service chatbots have made it very easy for the business to do personalized marketing and big data analytics can really enhance the customer’s experience. Information gathered from these chatbots can be analysed to offer personalised solutions to the customer and offer them personalised solutions. Insights from big data analysis can also enhance customer’s experience by matching the product with customer’s expectation. 

5. Risk Management: Risk is an integral part of every business and big data analysis is of utmost importance for large corporations in risk management. The businesses these days have to deal with larger risks because of uncertainties present in global markets. Businesses are impacted by international politics, stock market, change in prices of raw material, import-export duties, taxes, government policies, change in customer expectations, cut-throat competition, wars between nations, currency fluctuations and what not. In these tough scenarios, businesses have to deal with increased risk from every corner. As such, big data can really help businesses mitigate the risk and manage it well not only to survive in the market but also to thrive. 

Big data analysis can be of great help for businesses as it enhances job productivity, employee efficiency, and customer satisfaction. But if you dig deeper you will realise that it has got some drawbacks as well which should be catered in order to reap maximum benefits. 

The Drawbacks of Big Data

Managing data in the right way can be quite beneficial for businesses. However, managing data comes with its own set of challenges. Therefore, just like any other technology, big data also comes with its own set of drawbacks.

1. Privacy Concerns: The present generation is hooked to their mobiles and as such they are sending data constantly to the outside world through google searches, the kind of content they like on Social Networking applications. These data are collected by the applications that we use on our mobiles and raise concerns to growing privacy issues. The permission of collection of the data are knowingly and sometimes unknowingly given while the customer uses these mobile applications. How these firms are using the data collected is also a question of great concern. As such, privacy may be violated through the collection of data.   

2. Misinterpretation of Insights: Extracting meaningful insights from vast datasets requires skills and experience. At several occasions, it becomes difficult to analyse the vast and complex data sets accurately. Misinterpretation or biased analysis could lead to poor decisions that could result in large loss to the organisation. As such, the data analysis should be done with utmost care and sincerity. Once a decision has been made, it becomes difficult to reverse it as it requires considerable resources for its execution.

3. Ethical Considerations: We are living in the era of information. Knowingly and unknowingly we are generating data at many stages in life. As a result, big data raises questions regarding the ethical collection, storage and interpretation  of data. Data collected without installing robust security measures have created issues like unauthorised access of valuable data and cyber threats. 

4. Huge Investments: Like any other technology, big data also requires investment for storage and processing of data.  The investment required in setting up the right infrastructure (hardware and software) and other tools can be huge. Moreover, the firms need to hire skilled personnel capable of analysing large data sets. Big data has huge potential but the initial investment can many times outweigh the potential benefits of big data.

Big Data results are heavily dependent upon a combination of factors such as skills/experience of professionals, availability of robust infrastructure, and how the privacy and security issues are dealt with. When used effectively and with care, it can enhance the output yet it cannot be used everywhere blindly.  Even though big data holds immense potential, it is important to keep the expectations realistic and understand that its effectiveness lies in how big data is channelized and managed.

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