Experts define big data as collection and analysis of huge unrelated data sources with the plan of deriving meaningful business insights. From my knowledge, there’s no agreement on exactly what it represents but that hasn’t stopped Nigerian companies to spend tens of millions of dollars on big data and some have gone ahead to claim good returns. Big data is not only massive volume but also has the capability to produce real-time updates and complex sources, types and categories. In short, big data presents a broader and more complex depiction of reality, which is difficult to reach through conventional surveys. Like tech companies have discovered in Abuja and Lagos, there will be no people who will rely on surveys as primary data sources going forward. We all know how surveys are expensive, time consuming and inaccurate as was the case with Brexit and US elections. This is where big data comes in and Nigerian companies are leading the way in Africa.I do know how a number of major Nigerian organisations understand the potential of big data and are already making effective use of the technology.For example, two banks one based in Lagos and another in Abuja are using big data analytic solutions to extract more accurate and clearer data of their customers to deliver better products and services to the right customers. Also, a courier company in Nigeria is also using the technology to deliver better value to businesses and better customer services, support through improved data analytics that is helping map out the customer journey and optimise marketing strategies and practices.Not left behind are two tele operators in Nigeria that are hoping to be able to achieve to real-time data analytics and improve one to one marketing strategies to enhance the value chain to their customers.
Big data in Nigeria is not only accommodating static data but is also providing dynamic data, which changes rapidly. In simple language, dynamic data comes from online portals such as social media platforms like Instagram, twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Overall, dynamic data is useful for urgent and short term purposes. Through dynamic data, Nigerian tech firms can quickly identify and respond to critical events, such as fires, diseases or violence. They can even identify the symptoms of radicalism like the case with Boko Haram or predict political preferences like recently concluded Gambian elections.Even English Premier League is using it. Big data machinery will continue to help Nigerian firms know the number of occurrences in a certain period of time, the spread of the country’s states, the cause category, and even the relationship between the group and the actors involved. In other words, big data provides information that is not available from traditional research institution and conventional methods in Nigeria.There’s no doubt big data is a new technique for presenting certain truths and proliferation of information technology is playing a vital role in constructing society’s knowledge. Big data definitely need availability of information technology to process millions and even billions of data, whether structured or not structured, fragmented or intact. It is well known that large volumes of data cannot be processed and analysed by conventional analytical computational techniques. With a big data analytical engine, the original raw unstructured data unveils information through patterns, relationships and coherences.As of now, only Nigerian tech companies, researchers and academicians are interested in big data. Surely, the big data has opened a door to enrich the variety of data, to strengthen the analysis, which further develops opportunities for more elaborate and wide ranging research.The challenge for Nigerian tech firms investing in big data need to ensure there’s validity and reliability since big data is absorbed from open sources like social media and news sites, which is largely a fragmented data. By examining and reconstructing big data to make it reliable will undoubtedly deliver massive return on investments in coming years.