Big Data: Integrate for Insight

Big data continues to be one of the hottest trends in government. A recent report from Oracle, Integrate for Insight, states, “Enterprises must learn to understand how best to leverage big data soon, since the amount of data being generated shows no signs of slowing down.” With the adoption of social channels by government, citizens, emerging technology, more kinds of data are being developed. With all this data, agencies are tasked to learn how to manage, store, and develop insights from the data. In many cases, the hope is to show how the data is interrelated, and how systems can be improved.

The report is clear to identify that big data is like traditional data in many ways, stating,”It [Big data] must be captured, stored, organized, and analyzed, and the results of the analysis need to be integrated into established processes and influence how the business operates.”The key is the integration, so that data does not rest isolated and in silos. The report also states:

Big data—information gleaned from nontraditional sources such as blogs, social media, email, sensors, photographs, video footage, etc., and therefore typically unstructured and voluminous—holds the promise of giving enterprises deeper insight into their customers, partners, and business. This data can provide answers to questions they may not have even thought to ask. What’s more, companies benefit from a multidimensional view of their business when they add insight from big data to the traditional types of information they collect and analyze. For example, a company that operates a retail Web site can use big data to understand site visitors’ activities, such as paths through the site, pages viewed, and comments posted. This knowledge can be combined with purchasing history and stored in a corporate relational database. From this, the company gains a better understanding of customers, and can fine-tune offers to target their interests.

The report was an interesting read. One of the sections identifies that big data has been traditionally used by web companies, as they face the challenge of managing large volumes of data on a regular basis. Now, big data has extended into new verticals such as taxes, healthcare, transportation, and many other kinds of public sector functions. Recently, I had the chance to talk with Izzy Sobokowski from New York City Department of Health and Human Services, talking about big data initiatives in New York City. Be sure to take a look at the report, as it is another great example of how big data can be used to drive innovation and improve efficiency at an agency.

What are your challenges with big data? Any great success stories you can share from your agency?

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