How Businesses Should Tackle Big Data Challenges

In today’s data-driven landscape, Big Data plays a pivotal role, encompassing vast amounts of information from various sources within an organisation. Its magnitude and diversity make it a valuable asset with the potential to revolutionise businesses across sectors. In the UK alone, Big Data is estimated to be worth over £16.8 billion, with a significant number of organisations, around 432,000, embracing its technology. However, despite its potential, many Big Data projects fail to deliver on expectations – but why?

The Workforce Isn’t Well Equipped With Big Data Knowledge

One major challenge lies in the lack of expertise among employees. While technical issues are apparent, the shortage of individuals with proficient Big Data skills poses a significant obstacle. According to the Department of Science, Innovation, and Technology, there are approximately 215,000 roles in businesses demanding advanced data skills beyond basic IT proficiency, yet there’s a scarcity of qualified applicants. To address this, organisations can focus on upskilling existing staff, offering opportunities for professional development in data science, and leveraging user-friendly analytics tools like Amazon SageMaker.

It Can Be Difficult to Interpret Big Data

Another hurdle is the difficulty in interpreting Big Data effectively. While it holds immense potential, extracting valuable insights requires understanding and interpreting the data accurately. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into play. AI analytics can sift through vast and complex datasets efficiently, identifying patterns and connections that might elude human analysis. Combining AI with human expertise allows for thorough review and refinement of insights, ensuring their accuracy and relevance.

There Are Privacy and Cybersecurity Risks

Moreover, cybersecurity and privacy risks are significant concerns associated with Big Data. With the increasing frequency of cyberattacks, organisations holding sensitive data are vulnerable to breaches that can result in substantial losses and damage to reputations. Compliance with regulations like the GDPR further complicates data management efforts. To mitigate these risks, companies must implement robust security measures, regularly update protocols, and utilise AI tools for real-time monitoring and threat detection. Additionally, AI and robotic process automation can streamline compliance efforts by identifying areas for improvement and ensuring adherence to data regulations.

Large Data Sets Can Contain Errors

Data quality is crucial for businesses, encompassing accuracy, relevance, and completeness. However, larger datasets often contain inaccuracies, errors, and duplicates, leading to mistakes and inefficiencies. This can result in significant financial losses for firms, with UK businesses estimated to lose £244 billion annually due to poor data quality. To tackle this issue, automated cleansing tools can be employed to identify and rectify duplicates, anomalies, and missing data. Establishing clear data quality standards and regularly assessing them is also vital.

Difficulties in Integrating Big Data

Additionally, the diversity of Big Data presents integration challenges, making it difficult to unify multiple file formats from various sources. Traditional tools struggle with this, often leading to data segregation into silos. Cloud storage and management tools offer a solution by efficiently sharing information between databases and consolidating them without the need for costly transfer procedures. Data virtualisation tools, such as CData Software, further enhance Big Data visibility by allowing access to information from various sources without physically moving it.

Big Data is Difficult to Store in One Place

As data continues to expand into terabytes and exabytes, effective data storage management becomes crucial. Without the right architecture and infrastructure, businesses may miss out on deriving value from their data assets. 85% of UK companies manage digital data, according to the UK Business Data Survey 2022, suggesting there is a substantial demand for effective storage solutions. Transitioning to cloud storage allows for scalable data management and cost reduction. Techniques like compression, deduplication, and automated data lifecycle management can also minimise storage requirements.

What Are The Ethics of Big Data?

Moreover, Big Data collection raises ethical concerns, as it increases the risk of including personally identifiable details and biases in AI systems. Establishing a data ethics committee and implementing regular review processes for data collection and usage policies are essential steps to address these concerns. Scrubbing data of identifying factors and avoiding storing irrelevant details can help eliminate bias-prone information and reduce ethical concerns.

Eliminating Big Data Challenges is Worth It

Despite the challenges, strategically approaching Big Data can yield significant benefits. The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that Big Data analytics benefits the UK economy at £40 billion annually. Enterprises that tackle common obstacles effectively can harness the promise of Big Data and drive innovation and growth.

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Jake Michael is a graduate from the University of Kent and now represents Catalyst BI, which offers business intelligence solutions for various organisations in the UK.

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