Analyzing Big Data – 8 Tips for finding the signals within the noise

By : Aditya April 28, 2018 No Comments

This is a data-driven world. Everywhere you see collection and assimilation of data. In a way, you need this data because this will define your performance in the future. In this age of automation and online transactions, the collection of data becomes invariable. Recent surveys show that your data content doubles every two years. By the year 2020, the digital universe will be staring at a staggering figure of 44 zettabytes annually.

Naturally, it should entail that your company should gain substantially by analyzing this data stockpile. However, does it happen that way every time? Unfortunately, the answer is NO. The surveys show that not more than 0.5% of data is actually subject to analysis. Is it not a waste of time and energy collecting such a huge quantity of data, especially when the actual analysis rate hovers less than 1%?

What does this signify? The data has great importance, but in the absence of proper analysis, there is a dilution in its value. It makes more noise and thus finding the right signals within the noise becomes difficult. Let us look at 8 simple ways to overcome this challenge and find the right signals.

Have clarity in your thinking

Most of the business organizations make this mistake. They start with one objective in mind. It goes on changing as time progresses and by the time they collect data for analysis, it becomes worthless for the business. Hence, it is always better to start with a clear objective. This helps to prioritize your business and ensure that you collect the right data.

This clarity in your thinking helps you to identify the key performance indicators. Hence, you end up catching the right signals from the huge volume of data available at your disposal. This will also help you avoid duplication of data, another big malaise with data collection procedures.

Quality of the data is the key

The more the amount of noise from bad data, the lesser are the chances of finding the right signals. Now, no data is perfect all the time. You have both useful and worthless data. Instead of treating all the data as worthless, it would be better to search through the data and find the information that is useful to you. What do you do when you buy apples from the market? Do you not choose the best ones that do not have any dents or blemishes? The same logic applies here as well. You do not need useless data.

Be as specific as possible in asking and answering questions

You have a minefield of data before you. Searching for the information you seek will become simpler if you narrow down the options. This will automatically eliminate the unnecessary data leaving you with data that is relevant to your objective. You need to ask searching questions concerning your topic of interest rather than looking for interesting bits of information from the pile. This is the approach that intelligent students take when they have to answer questions that have answers in the form of multiple choices. Eliminating the wrong options automatically takes them closer to the right one.

Have an open mind without any prejudice

The fallibility of the human mind is that it tends to take sides. This brings in the question of bias. When you search for data with such a prejudiced mind, you invariably end up missing the right signal. This is because you have conditioned your mind not to accept that signal, in spite of it being the most important piece of information. Therefore, one should analyze data with an open mind. This is the right way to find the right signals amidst the noise.

Have the right background information

It is very important to have the right background information while analyzing data. You should be aware of the internal and external factors that can affect the quality of the data or information you seek. This will place you in a better position to filter out the right kind of signals from the pile of information you have in front of you.

Visualizing your data is important

When you analyze data, you need to visualize them and observe the pattern they follow. Plotting the data on a simple graph can also help you visualize the data and come to the right conclusion. Let us see a simple example. You are analyzing the power consumption of your house on a monthly basis. At a glance, you might know that you consume more power during the summer months. However, if you plot a graph of item wise consumption of electricity, you will be able to deduce that the reason for high consumption is the use of the air conditioning equipment more in the summer months.

Take the help of technology

As the number of data increases, you will find it increasingly difficult to sift through the data and arrive at the right kind of information. There is no need for you to manually do the hard work because you have the technology to do it for you. It can surprise you that computers can do the analysis tremendously fast. Using the right tools to browse and filter the data can save you a lot of time. You end up with a greater degree of efficiency.

Have the right people manning the tools

Having the right tools to filter the data for you is necessary. It is more important to have the right person behind the right tool. When we use the word, ‘the right person’, we mean to say that the person manning the tools should have the right amount of dedication to spot the difference.

Inference

We have seen the eight useful tips that could help you find the appropriate signals among the huge volume of data at your disposal. This is the essence of data analytics. It is true that analyzing data without meaningful insights is an absolute waste of time.

Explore Next Analytics which can help you Extract, Transform, Load and derive meaningful insights.    

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