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Datameer Blog

Top 5 Requirements to Make Big Data Work for You and Me

By on October 22, 2015

I was excited to join Datameer recently as Director of Product Marketing because I believe in its vision—to make big data analytics available for everyone. Now, anyone who makes such claims should be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism. After all, big data has been around for a while, and it’s still hard to use and mostly limited to those in IT, the data scientists or the specially trained analysts.

In my experience as the business owner, I’ve often had to go to another group and ask (beg?) them if they would do this analysis for me. If I was lucky, they would say yes, and I waited a few days to get the results depending on how busy they were. Sometimes I never heard back and then I knew it was because the analyst didn’t know how to get the data or was unable to perform the analysis because of rigid data schemas that were not built for my question. Other times my IT person would send me a string of raw data and I’d have to figure what to do with it (seriously!). As a business owner, it was very frustrating to not be able to use data to my advantage. I took solace that other business owners were in the same boat so I was hopeful I was not too far behind.

When I heard about Datameer, I was optimistic but skeptical. Can Datameer really bring big data to the masses? to “everyone”? Let’s see.

1. Having a big data infrastructure matters

To do big data analysis, you need an underlying big data infrastructure — you can’t do big data if you don’t have it. Datameer is an analytics application that is native on Hadoop, and that “native” part really matters. Hadoop is a database for big data management that’s run on commodity hardware—so cheap that you can just throw all you data in it. Native on Hadoop means you’re not just pulling data out of Hadoop and moving it into another BI analytics application and database. Every time you have to move data from one place or another, you lose some level of data granularity or you gain complexity—and we’re talking big data. Native means Datameer sits directly on top of Hadoop as its database. No need to move your big data anywhere. This is good to know when you talk to IT.

2. No need to pre-plan, pre-think, or pre-limit your analysis

Traditional BI is very structured. You need IT to cleanse the data so your analysis will make sense (i.e. zeros and blanks, do they mean the same thing?). When IT puts data into a BI database for analysis, he/she is putting it into a certain structure, a data schema that traditionally took the form of a “star” or “snowflake” schema. This means that when you analyze the data, you’re limited by what the fixed structure of the database provides. So you have to pre-think and pre-plan your analysis and tell your IT person what you want to do ahead of time. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at seeing into the future. What if you want to start a new mobile campaign and you want to see how mobile was affecting your store traffic by performing a new type of analysis? You go back to IT and ask to connect your store data and mobile data (requiring a new data schema).

With Datameer, you don’t have to pre-think or pre-plan your analysis ahead of time. All the data gets loaded first and then when you need to do analysis, that’s when you cleanse and transform it (ie. change blanks to zero) and use a drag-and-drop interface to create whatever view of the data you need, without actually changing the underlying raw data. With Datameer, you don’t need to pre-build a data schema so your analysis is not limited to what you can think of ahead of time. Best of all, Datameer has an intuitive Excel-like user interface so you can do all this yourself and not rely on IT or data specialist. So go ahead and “ask away” your data.

So far so good?

3. Ability to analyze the data universe

Big data means combining unstructured data with structured data. You already know about structured data (name, address, product, date, etc.). But the ability to add unstructured data like machine data (logs from your website, ecommerce application, mobile app, etc.), social sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., or sensor data (in stores, supply chain, vehicles, etc.) is what separates big data analytics from traditional BI. IDC forecasts the digital universe to be doubling every 2 years. Any big data analytics solution needs to be able to analyze and process unstructured data with the structured data because that’s what will give you new insight.

Datameer has the ability to add in unstructured data to structured data and make sense of it so you can perform analysis. No matter what vendors claim, there is no magic to analyzing unstructured data. At the end of the day, the system will need to apply some kind of structure and logic to it for you to do analysis. Datameer can break down the text in the unstructured data to help identify what’s important and what’s not to make sense of it.

Here’s the bonus.

4. Pre-built analytics to do analysis faster

We are all busy people so if I can push one button instead of 10, that’s tremendously helpful. This is where Smart Analytics comes in. Smart Analytics are pre-built algorithms so you can do sophisticated analyses easily and look smart! Datameer has 4 types of Smart Analytics:

• Decision tree (what factors caused the targeted outcome—like root cause analysis)
• Column dependency (what is the correlation between two data streams)
• Cluster analysis (let the machine group your data for you to simplify analysis)
• Recommendations (make recommendations based on past behavior)

What I like about this is that I can still use advanced analytics without the need for a data scientist so I can do my analysis faster!

And last but not least,

5. Easy to use with familiar, Excel-like interface

In order for big data analytics to work for the masses, it needs to be intuitive. No one has time to read a manual, sit in week-long training sessions, and call customer support to figure out how to analyze their data. This is where Excel comes in. I grew up on Excel and I suspect many of you out there also. Datameer is big data analytics software with an Excel-like interface that we know. Ready to call the shots?

Are we getting closer to big data analytics for the masses? I think Datameer is hitting on something here. What do you think?


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Andrew Brust

Andrew is Datameer's Sr. Director of Market Strategy and Intelligence. He covers big data and analytics for ZDNet, is conference co-chair for Visual Studio Live! and is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP.