5 Biggest Big Data in 2014

There’s a lot of big data available in 2014, many of it free and offering up invaluable information for businesses. Can there be too much of a good thing? Definitely, especially when you’re having trouble narrowing it down. Consider these five best resources for free big data in 2014, or figure out if it’s time you started collecting data yourself.

1. Archives

“Archives” can refer to a number of things from scanned medical insurance forms to customer correspondence. Most companies have archives that are actually gold mines of data, but they may not be properly organized or you may not have the tools, such as Apache Hadoop, to make sense of it. The biggest big data in 2014 is often right under your nose—but can take a lot of work.

2. .gov Sites

The government is constantly spending millions on research, and much of that data is free or available at a very low cost. Before reinventing the wheel yourself, find out if the research has already been done for you. Think of Census Bureau information, healthcare studies or disease prevention statistics available on .gov sites as easy pickings.

3. Social Media Information

Social media platforms provide invaluable information. This is an easy place to find infographics, informal surveys (or conduct your own) and the many free site-specific analysis tools can instantly tell you information on demographics like who’s following you, which pages they’re most interested in, and their other favorite activities.

4. The Media

Say what you will about media outlets today (such as their penchant for jumping on stories without adequate research), but they give you leads you’d otherwise miss. Browse Google News or any preferred media site, set up alerts for keywords such as “healthcare study” or simply “study” and you’ll be instantly in the know about the latest research and developments.

5. Business Apps

If you’ve had an app developed for your business, products or services, make sure that data collection is built into it. This can tell you what demographics are using your app, what for, and is even useful when the app is for internal purposes.

However, even with all of this information at your fingertips, sometimes it’s best to just take things into your own hands, customize a survey and get exactly the data you need. This can seem like an overwhelming process, which is why getting a consultant on board might be in your best interest. A professional can help you narrow down target demographics, customize the survey, analyze it and help translate the results into big data that you can actually use.

In reality, every business can benefit from big data including personalized big data. However, it’s a big undertaking and slipping up in just one step can make the difference between success and a lot of wasted time. Big data is supposed to make your work easier, not another challenging task added into the mix. Approach it from the right angle, and use the existing data available to you, to find how to make data work for you.

About the author: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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