5 Big Data Use Cases To Watch - InformationWeek

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Data Management // Big Data Analytics

5 Big Data Use Cases To Watch

Here's how companies are turning big data into decision-making power on customers, security, and more.

10 Hadoop Hardware Leaders
10 Hadoop Hardware Leaders
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We hear a lot about big data's ability to deliver usable insights -- but what does this mean exactly?

It's often unclear how enterprises are using big-data technologies beyond proof-of-concept projects. Some of this might be a byproduct of corporate secrecy. Many big-data pioneers don't want to reveal how they're implementing Hadoop and related technologies for fear that doing so might eliminate a competitive advantage, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Certainly the market for Hadoop and NoSQL software and services is growing rapidly. A September 2013 study by open-source research firm Wikibon, for instance, forecasts an annual big-data software growth rate of 45% through 2017.

[Digital business demands are bringing marketing and IT departments even closer. Read Digital Business Skills: Most Wanted List.]

According to Quentin Gallivan, CEO of big-data analytics provider Pentaho, the market is at a "tipping point" as big-data platforms move beyond the experimentation phase and begin doing real work. "It's why you're starting to see investments coming into the big-data space -- because it's becoming more impactful and real," Gallivan told InformationWeek in a phone interview. "There are five use cases we see that are most popular."

Here they are:

1. A 360 degree view of the customer
This use is most popular, according to Gallivan. Online retailers want to find out what shoppers are doing on their sites -- what pages they visit, where they linger, how long they stay, and when they leave.

"That's all unstructured clickstream data," said Gallivan. "Pentaho takes that and blends it with transaction data, which is very structured data that sits in our customers' ERP [business management] system that says what the customers actually bought."

A third big-source, social media sentiment, also is tossed into the mix, providing the desired 360 degree view of the customer. "So when [retailers] make target offers directly to their customers, they not only know what the customer bought in the past, but also what the customer's behavior pattern is… as well as sentiment analysis from social media."

2. Internet of Things
The second most popular use case involves IoT-connected devices managed by hardware, sensor, and information security companies. "These devices are

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Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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