Big Data Basics for Beginners

Have you ever encountered those books with titles that say something like Programming for Dummies? Ever looked for one about big data?

It is no surprise that many of us will have wanted to reach for a book like that. Big data and analytics are the darling of entrepreneurial circles nowadays. CEO Jeff Bezos has made Amazon the most data-centric company in the world. I have a friend who believes that data science is the future, so that’s what she is getting a master’s degree for. The rest of us, however, do not have the luxury of time to go to school. Plus, I’m sure we took up a different major in college.

Working with big data

Fortunately, there are ways for us to understand big data and for our company to become data-centric. Read on to find out.

Get acquainted with big data frameworks and programming languages

Working with large data sets will require you to perform distributed data storage, parallel data processing, and other specialized approaches. These tasks entail that you have a background on Hadoop, which is a framework for parallel data processing and distributed data storage, or Kafka, which is a framework for stream processing.

A working knowledge of programming languages such as Java, Python, and Scala is also a must.

To gain the necessary skills, invest in a good online learning platform — one that will let you study at your own pace and is friendly for beginners. For starters, check out Big Data & Hadoop classes. Focusing on this framework will allow you to learn the fundamentals that can help jumpstart your company’s drive toward data-centrism.

Subscribe to blogs and publications

Read. Keep yourself abreast with industry trends and practical knowledge. One way to immerse yourself in the world of big data is to have a list of blogs, journals, and publications to follow.

Data Elixir is a good place to start. It is a weekly newsletter curated by an ex-NASA data scientist. Signing up is free and will open up your inbox to news and resources on the topic. You can also access the archives, running at Issue 174 now, on the site itself. There is also a page for those who are looking for related jobs in the field.

Meanwhile, online learning platform O’Reilly grants you access to internet and technology in general. However, it also pools the ideas of industry experts in one place, so you get a blend of topics that include analytics and artificial intelligence.

eCommerce trends
photo credit: Nestle / Flickr

Look at how big data is used in industries

We have seen big data change retail thanks in part to Amazon. Yet, there are more areas that are reaping the benefits of massive amounts of data being processed and analyzed.

Education has one of the most practical uses. At the school and classroom levels, teachers can use information to anticipate, acknowledge, and address each student’s learning curve. In general, schools can improve the efficiency by which they impart information and evaluate students.

In healthcare, big data is needed to secure the timing and accuracy of treatments and medications. At the same time, it provides health practitioners with insights into individual histories that will make diagnosis and cure more customized than ever.

Join a community

Find a group of likeminded individuals — say, one that is composed of beginners all wanting to know the ropes of big data. It can also be an established association in your city or backed by an academic institution.

Being a part of a network will not only do wonders for your company but also for you. This is the venue to connect with potential investors and partners. At the same time, you can actively seek a mentor among your fellow members. Plus, the support of your peers will prove to be invaluable in your pursuit of data-centrism.

Resources. Advice. Connections. Free flow of ideas. These are just a few of the perks of joining a community of data lovers. Try it now and see for yourself.