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Big Data too big to ignore

By PETER WHITE

Published: 1 February, 2013

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We have tried and tried to ignore this new idea "big data," feeling certain that it was just another "business intelligence" fad. But our coverage this week of US Telco CenturyLink, and its use of a tool called Splunk, finally ventures into Big Data.

Business intelligence, a product of the 1990s, was a way of taking existing transactional data and exploding it into pre-defined summaries so that they could be easily queried. It took 100 MBs of data and created database summaries of at least ten times the size, and it told you surprising things about your business. But Big data is different. It is more about taking unstructured data, words and in the TV world, click data from remote controls, and turning it into something that makes sense.

Tools like Splunk index what is calls fast-moving, machine data generated from apps and devices and uses this to troubleshoot problems and investigate incidents to gain new customer insights. Technically it does things very differently from Business Intelligence, but the outcome is the same - understanding why customers do certain things - like churn to another service.

It does not take a genius nor tons of processing to see that if clients phone a call center and are treated like a pariah, instead of a customer, then they will take their business elsewhere. But many large organizations have no idea of what is being said in their call centers, because they are run by faceless accountants with no understanding of the business and which have few management controls in place.

It sounds to us that companies which are run in this way, need tools like Splunk to point out what should already be "bleeding' obvious."

For a detailed version of the our CenturyLink story , go to www.rethinkresearch/faultline and request this week's issue, free.

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