Big Data—information sets too large to be effectively computed on desktop systems—isn’t just the buzzword du jour. It provides an unprecedented ability for business and industry to precisely model the effects of past managerial decisions on the bottom line. But an emerging analytical process called prescriptive analytics could help companies not only learn from previous decisions, but predict and plan for upcoming issues as well. It’s Big Data evolved, and could change how the world does business.
Big Data, which relies on structured data sets of crunchable numbers, is just a small portion of the total available data produced daily—about 20 percent, according to IBM estimates. Text, images, video, social media streams, machine data, and audio on the other hand, collectively known as unstructured data, are simply ignored because they don’t fit neatly on a spreadsheet despite containing a wealth of mineable information. However, by combining structured and unstructured data into a hybrid data set, companies are afforded a complete and total view of the issue and can, in theory at least, make the best possible decision based on it. And it’s these hybrid data sets that prescriptive analytics utilizes to predict the future.