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Ayanda Dlamini, LGR TelecommunicationsAyanda Dlamini, LGR Telecommunications

Big Data is not about sifting through a wealth of historical data, it is about focusing on the ‘now’ within the data.

It is new data, and emerges every second from email, mobile and social media. It is here that business should be looking for strategic insights.

Using BI tools to analyse historical data to make forward-looking decisions will often lead to inaccurate conclusions. Big Data management is about managing the growing volumes, variety, velocity and complexity of global data to determine what customers are saying now, how market sentiments are changing, and how the business should react. Effective use of Big Data depends on finding the ‘now’ in structured and unstructured data. To track and process the ‘now’, businesses have to integrate social media into their BI. Social media allows business to remain in touch with what customers and their networks are saying about both you and your competitors. It allows business to consider external factors that will impact market behaviour, and track trends within networks likely to influence their customers’ future buying patterns.

With advanced Big Data tools incorporated into their BI systems, businesses are able to identify changes in the market in near real time, and change their strategy accordingly.

Social media in BI also allows us to extend the incorporation of data generated by mobile into the BI mix. With vast numbers of customers accessing social media via their smart mobile devices, we are able to increase our understanding beyond their networks and sentiments to include geographical data too.

Businesses need to look at this valuable data from various sources in order to profi le individual clients.

Businesses can start small, by integrating social media APIs into the BI suite to gain immediate insights into key questions. You can tap into only what is relevant to your business to understand the now of your environment, and what you need to react to.

By asking, “What can BI do to create survival mechanisms and contribute to our strategy?” Enterprises will identify what sources they want to tap into and how they wish to analyse and present the resulting information.

About the author: Ayanda Dlamini, business development manager, LGR Telecommunications.