“Big data” refers to data sets so large that conventional software can’t process them adequately for the task required. Some of the challenges surrounding big data include data capture and storage, analysis and sharing, and visualisation and transfer.
Big data has developed out of a greater ability to gather data from the Internet of things, everyday objects embedded with computers which exchange information via the internet. What is considered big data varies and can include different orders of magnitude however it can be understood as anything potentially considered too big to be dealt with by a spreadsheet.
Big data offers many opportunities for online companies. It can be used to indicate general trends in consumer behaviour, the targeted marketing of demographic groups, and analysis of retail transactions and tracking of stock. Most companies lack the means to analyse big data in depth. There are however online tools that can be used to get value from big data. Here are some of the best.
Google Trends is a free tool you can use to find trends in what people search for, which you can use to get insight on who is looking for your products or services and why. If you’re selling boats, and Google Trends shows that people searching for “boats” are often searching for “motorized boats”, then you can emphasize your line of motorized boats and give them prominence on your website. Google Trends analyses billions of data points to give you this valuable information instantly.
There are online tools to quantify your website traffic, to answer who exactly are the people visiting your site, and what is the purpose of their visit. Quantcast is a free tool to allow you to see your visitor’s information including how frequently they visit, what kind of devices they use, their age, gender, location, level of education etc.
Social Mention allows you to see what people are saying about your brand, and other relevant terms for your business. It’s a good way to monitor your company’s online reputation, and use that to learn and develop your marketing campaigns.