Big Data was first characterized in 2001 as having three Vs: Volume, Velocity and Variety. Volume refers to the sheer size of data that you need to work with, whether it’s Gigabytes, Terabytes or Petabytes. Velocity is about the speed at which new data is generated, coming from more and faster streams of events. Variety talks to the many different ways that data is represented, whether it has different structures, or has no structure at all.
To these three Vs, I like to add a fourth: Volatility. When I talk about data Volatility, I’m talking less about the actual data, and more about what it represents. Events occur every day in your enterprise that are digital representations of threats to, or opportunities for, your organization. Perhaps the event represents the chance to help a customer in your store find – and buy – an item he’s looking for. Or maybe the event is telling you that a cyber-thief is making off with your sensitive information.
In either case, the situation isn’t waiting around for you to respond to it; it’s on its own schedule. If you aren’t ready to respond in the appropriate amount of time, then your customer – or his personal information he entrusted you with – has left your premises.
So what do you do about these four Vs? It all boils down to just three words: Understand. Anticipate. Act.
The first step is to Understand your data. Use your Predictive Analytics tools to visually examine your data and run statistical models on it. Is comparison-shopping a good predictor of a purchase in that category? Does a pattern of late-night logins foreshadow data theft? What patterns could you find in your data if you looked in the right places?
The next step is to Anticipate. You’ve teased out Understanding from your data, now you’re ready to correlate a set of events as they occur. Put Complex Event Processing (CEP) to work finding the pattern the next time it’s developing – not after it’s over.
Finally, Act. Your CEP has determined that you’re in the midst of an unfolding situation. If you think that letting those events develop on their own is good enough, then your competitors are going to outpace you. Take the bull by the horns. Show your customer their next favorite purchase before they leaves the store. Slam your firewall shut on your would-be thief before he or she downloads any data.
Three words. Understand. Anticipate. Act. That’s the secret to turning Big Data into the two-second advantage™.
Learn even more at TUCON 2012.