You don't need to have been involved in the analytics sector for long to have heard some software vendor, consultancy, or service provider say, "We've been doing big data since before it was called big data."
In most cases such claims are met with plenty of skepticism.
However, let's turn our view to the customer community -- the enterprises that buy those software products and services. Some of them, depending on their industry, have been utilizing big data for decades. The difference today is in the level of analytics -- the automation -- that they are able to apply to that data, along with the fact that they didn't know it was big data years ago.
That certainly was the case in the financial sector, where analysts pulled together data from all types of sources to help investors make decisions. Even in other sectors, the best sales representatives mined multiple sources to find and build relationships with the best prospects.
Yet the best example of an industry doing big data before it was called that might be real estate. Realtors helping clients price and sell a home have to utilize hard, transactional data on "comps" (recent comparable sales) but must also draw on a reservoir of softer data about what makes a neighborhood appealing, what types of homes potential buyers have been asking about, and general economic trends at the national and local level.
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