Big data analytics is the process of examining large data sets containing a variety of data types -- i.e., big data -- to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and other useful business information. The analytical findings can lead to more effective marketing, new revenue opportunities, better customer service, improved operational efficiency, competitive advantages over rival organizations and other business benefits.
The primary goal of big data analytics is to help companies make more informed business decisions by enabling data scientists, predictive modelers and other analytics professionals to analyze large volumes of transaction data, as well as other forms of data that may be untapped by conventional business intelligence (BI) programs. That could include Web server logs and Internet clickstream data, social media content and social network activity reports, text from customer emails and survey responses, mobile-phone call detail records and machine data captured by sensors connected to the Internet of Things. Some people exclusively associate big data with semi-structured and unstructured data of that sort, but consulting firms like Gartner Inc. and Forrester Research Inc. also consider transactions and other structured data to be valid components of big data analytics applications.