Subscribe to industry newsletters

Make sense of all that data by mining it

As the year starts, the media is filled with analysts and experts from various sectors and industries and their predictions about what the most notable trends will be in the year ahead. Those who are gazing into the proverbial crystal ball on behalf of the IT industry are all buzzing about data.
It looks like 2013 will continue to serve us data in various shapes and sizes (mostly herculean): big data, databases and data mining - which were all hot topics during 2012 - continue to feature heavily on this year's trend lists too. One of these 2013 forecasters is market research, analysis and advisory firm International Data Corporation (IDC). In a newly published report, it predicts that big data will grow to nearly USD10 billion in 2013.

Drowning in data

The more data expands - and it is growing exponentially, by a reported 35% to 40% per year and eightfold over the past seven years - the more difficult it will become to make sense of it, never mind accessing quickly to find information that you might be looking for. Oracle's president, Mark Hurd, was recently quoted as saying that the number of devices that are supplying data back to businesses and enterprises will boom to a staggering 50 billion by the end of this decade. There are already more than nine billion existing devices that are connected to the Internet and used to transmit and collect data. No wonder Hurd says that the world is already "drowning" in data.

Businesses are running out of space to store all the data they are collecting, including the information that is crucial to running their businesses, such as the data that is sourced from a range of client databases, email, and web analytics.

The needles hidden in your haystacks of data

Data mining, which is also known as data or knowledge discovery, is - to describe it in very simple terms - the process of using technology to search through databases, to find relevant information, to analyse it from different angles, to place it into a correct category, and then to summarise it into bite-sized, easily digestible and useful information. As one columnist cleverly put it: "Data mining allows you to find the needles hidden in your haystacks of data."

And once those needles are located? That information can then be used by company owners to make important business decisions, such as determining how to increase revenue, or helping them to identify where they are haemorrhaging money and if and how they can cut costs.

Data mining is one of the services that we offer our clients. When it comes to data, quantity does not always equate with quality. The more you possess, the more overwhelming it can become to store it. We know that having too much to wade through can be cumbersome and a waste of time, which is why we group this service with data cleansing. In the end, you will be left only with the information that is relevant to your company's operations.

About the author

Louise Robinson is the MD of CG Consulting.