Don’t be fooled into thinking that big data just relies on technology

As big data becomes increasingly popular, it’s occasionally worth taking a step back to think about what companies are looking to achieve as well as the necessary elements, The Guardian reports.

Is investment in new technology really necessary, for example, if there is a cheaper – and ultimately simpler – means of collecting the required information?

Reza Soudagar, writing for multinational software company SAP, eloquently summarised how cost-effective ‘low-tech’ methods can be implemented to collect big data, citing the example of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Housed in Cevahir Bedesten, customers are not asked traditional questions (“Do you need any help?”) but are pressed on more personal matters, such as which country shoppers are from, the duration of their trip and even which hotel (or area) they are staying in.

While one could easily mistake this as an attempt to keep customers interested for longer, a happy side effect, their reasoning is more sophisticated: it’s all about big data.

These questions alone don’t provide enough information to form patterns but staff combine the answers they receive with other traits they can instantly detect – the customer’s age, the kind of watch they are wearing, their smartphone model and even the brand of their clothes re – to match up customers with their likely preferences. And an incredible feature is that this all happens within minutes.

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