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An NJIT Professor Assesses the Promise and the Challenge of Big Data

The advent of big data provides a tremendous opportunity for organizations to more fully understand the factors that drive their processes, from product sales, to consumer responses, to risk parameters. However, harnessing this vast resource comes with a cost, and it can be difficult to estimate the return on investment of time and resources, according to Stephan Kudyba, an associate professor in the School of Management at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Kudyba’s new book, Big Data, Mining, and Analytics: Components of Strategic Decision Making (CRC Press) aims to set big data in the context of the history of organizational intelligence gathering, while showing how the recent explosion of information can best be leveraged by organizations for marketing, e-commerce, and healthcare, among other areas.

“We hear the term ‘big data’ being thrown around a lot, but if you don’t ask the right questions of the data during the analytics process then you run the risk of generating useless noise. What’s really required to fully leverage this complex resource is a combination of data management professionals, data analysts, and subject matter experts who are able to extract actionable information. My goal is to describe how organizations can best make use of this diverse, increasingly ubiquitous information,” says Kudyba.

Organizations have access to a growing quantity of data gathered from such sources as computers, smartphones, cable systems, satellites, sensors, and microprocessors, and it encompasses a range of information, from structured computer files to Twitter responses. The proliferation of data is transforming more traditional business models. Within the retail sector, for example, a business looking to better understand the demand for its products and services now has the ability to project how information on weather patterns can affect foot traffic. Failing to take advantage of this information may mean missing out on the chance to increase product stock or available labor on a given day, Kudyba notes.

“A risk that businesses and other organizations face by not embracing big data is the potential to lose a competitive advantage to those who are able to leverage the resource. They may also fail to evolve their processes to meet the dynamic needs of the marketplace,” he says.

Kudyba’s research at NJIT focuses on strategic management and operational productivity and efficiency, which incorporates information systems, quantitative methods such as data mining, information and knowledge management and business intelligence. He teaches a variety of courses including data mining, knowledge management, market research and Internet marketing.  His new book is his fifth on data mining and analytics.