Real-time insights gained through fast data are necessary for SMB success in today's landscape.
Some feel that big data, in general, takes into account not just the size or amount of data but also the speed with which it's collected and processed. Technically, they're not wrong, but data velocity pertains specifically to another type of content: Fast data.
If big data is a massive trove of information at rest—think petabytes of information stored on a server—then fast data is data in motion or on the move. And data that's on the move is incredibly valuable in today's landscape.
According to IDC, data monetization will be a major source of revenue for many organizations as the world will create 180 zettabytes of data, or 180 trillion gigabytes, in 2025.
Not only does fast data have its own set of characteristics, it also requires unique technology and platforms to work with. The technology in question must be able to deliver steady insights in real-time, we're talking milliseconds or less. That is the only possible way to create recommendations, make decisions, or predict various actions with fast data.
Knowing this, one question comes to mind. Why isn't 'fast data' the same as 'big data' and how does that factor into businesses?
Fast data vs Big data
For all practical purposes, fast data can be considered as a subset of big data. This can make things particularly confusing if you don't know the difference between them.
Modern data is collected at breakneck speeds. It is then sent to a data storage system or server, which does one of two things: stores it for later or processes it then and there, spitting out the intel for retrieval.
With most systems, it's not a big deal to store data for later. This simply means that the data will be reviewed, organized, and processed at a later point in time.
However, there are instances where this is not a viable option. If you're processing data in separate batches, as opposed to right when it comes in, you're wasting your time. In turn, the longer you take to process it, the less valuable that data becomes, especially when it pertains to the 'right now' scheme of things. This means that it is increasingly important for organizations to discern what data is time-sensitive and therefore should be acted upon immediately.
Fast data is anything gathered or mined, both structured and unstructured, that has an expiration date and must be processed as soon as possible. As data flows in, it's immediately processed and mined for insights, which are then returned to the necessary system or party.
How can fast data can be applied in a small business
Big data puts you on an even playing field almost level with the big organizations. In that vein, fast data offers the same benefits, with even greater opportunity.
Imagine knowing instantly what a customer thinks about a product or service that you have delivered? That's the kind of information you can glean by using fast data systems. Instant, real-time, but more importantly, relevant to the now.
You can apply it to any process or system you have in place, to collect and review near-instant results or details. But, to do these things, you must leverage the appropriate tools.
Paul Steck, the President of Saladworks, uses fast data to determine the freshness and quality of the products his company is shipping. He has access to real-time customer comments and reviews, 24-hours a day. When something comes in that requires his attention he can immediately address a problem or complaint. Steck says it has "changed the landscape of service" that his company can provide.
How outsourcing services help
Most likely, you do not have the resources, hardware, and manpower to operate a fast data system, at least not internally. The sheer requirements are too much for any small business to handle. That's where cloud computing and IT outsourcing services can save the day.
By choosing a data provider that specializes in big data, or fast data, you gain access to all the resources you need without taking on the burden yourself. You don't have to worry about maintaining a data center and all the issues that come along with it. You don't have to worry about maximizing network performance for streaming services.
The only thing you do have to worry about is whether or not the data provider you chose can meet your needs. That makes everything infinitely easier to deal with and allows you and your team to focus on what matters for your business.
PSL delivers high-quality software engineering solutions by mastering advanced processes and technologies, such as big data, machine learning, and DevOps, among others. The company's reliable nearshore model, coupled with its top-tier, extensively trained software engineers, allows for efficient agile iterations and a focus on continuous experimentation.