Big Data & Analytics Heroes

Michael Kowolenko

Principle Research Scholar at NCSU College of Management

"Not all data is created equal, nor is it formatted in the same way."

Applying big data technology to answer business questions is critical for organizations. Dr. Michael Kowolenko, Principal Research Scholar, at North Carolina State University and this week’s Big Data Hero shares how big data helps businesses make better decisions and gain insight.

How are big data and analytics changing business strategy?

We are all told that big data is next best thing. Many companies struggle with asking the right question—getting a better understanding of your market, understanding what your customer needs are or perhaps identifying white space where you can fill a void that's in the market—these are all things that the company understands from a conceptual point of view. What we teach them to do is to practically apply the technology to answer those questions.

How have big data and analytics impacted how you do your job today?

You have to have a whole platform that allows you to ask questions and is flexible enough to handle all different types of data that come in. Not all data is created equal nor is it formated in the same way, so having an infrastructure that can handle these things allows you to mash up different data sources—Power, combined with BigInsights, provided a good solution for us. We could take structured data and unstructured data from different repositories and put it together to extract information from that.

What "gold nuggets" have you uncovered using big data and analytics?

What we saw with IBM was that the right tools would really allow the freedom to extract the information that was important to me so that I could apply the specificity needed to answer my questions. What we're able to do is focus more on the question rather than the mechanics of doing something; what that does is allow us to be more insightful about what we want to and make better business decisions.

To learn more, download "The top five ways to get started with big data" and explore the other IBM Big Data & Analytics Heroes.