Everything You Were Afraid to Ask About Big Data — Answered

The big data industry is getting extremely noisy. You have smart data suites geared toward monetizing digital media (that’s us!), suites like Palantir solving problems for the financial set, Hadoop making cluster batching in the cloud a reality (not to mention the platforms that sit on top of Hadoop to visualize the findings — looking at you Cloudera and HortonWorks), and the list goes on. 

In the tech industry, big data is serious business and soon, if not already, it will be a big part of any company’s balance sheet (in the green, too). But on the consumer level, there’s still a lot of confusion about what big data is, how, when or why it is collected and how exactly companies are using it to increase their bottom line and improve their customer service. So we thought no better place than SXSW Interactive to get inside the minds of some of the industry’s smartest folks — not necessarily the ones who call the C-Suite their office, but the up and comers who have their fingers on the pulse of the living, breathing trends in digital. 

Umbel asks: What’s Big Data? from Umbel on Vimeo.

Umbel’s Take on Their Answers

What is Big Data?

As you might expect, at SXSW Interactive, most people had a pretty good handle on what big data really is. The right answer: It’s everything. From what you export on an excel spreadsheet to the behavioral data collected when using apps on your smartphone, anything and everything collected and stored about your customers, your business or even yourself is what makes up big data. 

But big data isn’t really all that useful. For the most part, big data requires data scientists to dig through massive amounts of 1s and 0s to find correlations that the layman employee would never be able to decipher. That means that big data isn’t comprehensible for the masses — or, as we like to say, big data isn’t democratized.

Are people afraid of Big Data?

If you watched the video, you already know that for most individuals, that answer is generally a resounding “Yes.” But the fear, as one interviewee so keenly pointed out, comes around ambiguity. At Umbel, we refer to that ambiguity in terms of a lack of transparency. 

Collecting data without the permission of your customers, or using their data in ways that violates the terms of why they shared their information to begin with, is a breach of security and privacy — and on that point, we don’t budge. And we don’t let our clients budge either. 

As a smart data company (more of that in just a second), we strongly believe that it is our responsibility to educate our clients on their customers’ data rights and usage. In fact, in-house, we often call ourselves a data rights management platform. Why? Because at the core of what we do is the belief that big data should be used for the good of the people — and our platform eradicates any other possibilities. When we help our clients collect social identity data, their users are prompted to opt-in to the collection (and given a very clear opt-out choice, if they don’t want to participate). Then, we very clearly explain exactly what data will be taken and for what purposes. “If you can really empower rank and file employees to be able to hop into a platform and actually extract meaningful insights about a business, that’s huge!”

With Umbel, social identity data is used by our clients for multiple reasons, but always for the customization of their services and products in favor of their users or to help our clients secure sponsorships that are in the best interest of their users. The end goal is always the same: make customers happier to increase loyalty and engagement. Because at the end of the day, loyalty, honesty and transparency are what build your bottom line. 

Where do you see Big Data usage going in the future?

At Umbel, we are a pretty visionary group of folks. While everyone we spoke with at SXSWi explained that though big data usage seems a little new and scary now, it’ll be second nature before anyone knows it; we think that “second nature” is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Online traits including what you like, how often you post, what and when you purchase (plus so much else) tell a detailed story of who you are as an individual. And for the companies you love, those data points offer a deep dive into your digital DNA. Just as medicine is being altered to perfectly treat and cure the differing genomes of human biology, digital media will soon be altering it’s offerings and ultimately how it monetizes in order to perfectly treat and cure the annoyances of the Internet, including security issues, irrelevant ads and poor user experiences. 

What are the business benefits of Big Data?

“If you can really empower rank and file employees to be able to hop into a platform and actually extract meaningful insights about a business, that’s huge!”

We 100% agree — and it’s why Umbel is not just a big data platform, but a smart data platform. We take your business benefit goals, then silo and segment your data into visualized parts of a whole that look more like Mashable’s most recent viral infographic than an excel sheet. The purpose? To make sure that anyone, not just data scientists or someone with a Ph.D. can look at the data and find real business solutions within it.

Better yet, once you find those solutions, we make sure that you can take action on them in real-time — because the Internet doesn’t wait for anybody. 

So why are you waiting? Check out a demo to see how Umbel puts the power of your audience data at your fingertips.