As more companies are collecting massive amounts of data, the buzz around big data continues to grow. Although the term “big data” isn’t new, some confusion remains around what it is and how to effectively manage it to drive business results. Many think big data equals big spreadsheets, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
One thing is clear: every enterprise needs to understand big data and the potential of data-driven decisions. Big data can be explained in terms of data management demands that – with increasing volume, variety and velocity of data – can’t be managed with traditional databases. Most big data definitions include what’s commonly known as “three V’s” of big data:
- Volume: High in terms of data items – ranges from terabytes to petabytes of data – as well as dimensionality
- Variety: Includes data from a wide range of sources and formats with the ability for data shape and meaning to change over time
- Velocity: Arriving at a very high rate; data needs to be collected, stored, processed, and analyzed within relatively short windows
Just as there are many big data definitions, there are many big data tools. But more often than not, we see business users relying on their de facto standard, Microsoft Excel® for data management and analysis of big data. The Excel Team noted in a blog post last year:
The sweet spot for Excel in the big data scenario categories is exploratory/ad hoc analysis. Here, business analysts want to use their favorite analysis tool against new data stores to get unprecedented richness of insight. They expect the tools to go beyond embracing the “volume, velocity and variety” aspects of big data by also allowing them to ask new types of questions they weren’t able to ask earlier: including more predictive and prescriptive experiences and the ability to include more unstructured data (like social feeds) as first-class input into their analytic workflow.
As data volume, variety, and velocity increase, so should an organization’s ability to make use of it. Business decision makers need to be able to explore data independently of IT, even if they’re working with big or disparate data sources, which is why so many rely on Excel.
But when it comes to that first V – volume – we’re talking massive amounts of data. With endless data entry in Excel, spreadsheets can turn into massive files. And as noted above, traditional databases can’t keep up with big data. An alternative: xOverTime – the cloud-based SaaS solution that empowers users to leverage powerful database capabilities to store key data to support reporting and analysis. Better manage Excel data over time with added security, collaboration and analysis tools, plus the ability to integrate the data with other enterprise applications.
If you’re searching for a better way to manage your big data to gain actionable business insights, reach out and see how xOverTime’s technology and services can help.