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Why small data still matters – the myth of the usefulness of Big Data

Everywhere you look, people are talking about Big Data and how it’s going to change everything. They aren’t wrong. But they aren’t entirely right, either.

Why small data still matters

The problem with most people’s conception of Big Data is that data means a lot of different things to different people. Most of the time when people talk about Big Data, they’re talking about data gleaned from social media and other widely cast nets. But how relevant is that data to your day-to-day operations?

Chances are, it’s not. Not unless you’ve been able to figure out some very specific and relevant questions to ask of the data. And the odds that the answers you get are not only relevant but actually translate well into your business model – well enough that you can take action and get results without reinventing the wheel at great expense – are pretty slim.

Furthermore, embracing Big Data is only helpful if you’ve already gleaned all the knowledge you can from your existing operational data. If you don’t know where your strengths and weaknesses actually lie, nor how your business flexes and grows with the changing world around you, formulating the right questions to ask of big data may be a futile – and expensive  – exercise.

Small data – the data your organization collects as a matter of doing business – is a whole other ballgame. And if you’re doing your small data right, the possibilities for discovery are downright exciting. Advances in data analysis and Business Intelligence systems mean that data can be connected and analyzed in ways that were once impossible. The more granular the data you collect, the more surprising linkages you can uncover.

Your small data holds a wealth of opportunities for discovery and change that not only fits right in to your business goals, it can help define them for the future.

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