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How to Make the Most of Your Big Data

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Data rules the world these days. But now that it’s handily surpassed just about every other quantifiable thing on Earth in terms of usefulness and monetary value, a single burning question remains: Just what, precisely, do we do with all of it?

Don’t be scared off by the name — “big” data is every bit as useful for smaller companies as for globe-spanning corporations. As it turns out, it’s not really about how much you have, but rather how you use it. If you collect and rely on data, but you’re wondering how to make it more useful and actionable, here are a few places you can get started.

Start With a Problem That Actually Needs Solving

You don’t need to pore over a data point just because it exists. Some data just isn’t going to yield anything useful — so you need to pick your battles. What problems are you actually trying to solve?

Perhaps the best source of this kind of “structured” data is the information that changes hands during customer transactions. With a little effort, you can uncover patterns you didn’t know existed, such as seasonal fluctuations and spending habits.

Operationalize Your Results

Supposing you started with a problem that needed solving and …

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