Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hadoop, an Elephant's Name

Rachael King’s article “Getting a Handle on Big Data with Hadoop” posted in Bloomberg Businessweek, explains the importance of controlling data in a corporation. 
In today’s age of technology businesses need to control the amount of information that social media websites obtain about their business. Wal-Mart analyzes what users say about their products from popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. However, how does WalMart sort through this large amount of information in an efficient amount of time? They use Hadoop software.
            Doug Cutting is the creator behind Hadoop. In 2006, Cutting named this software after his son’s stuffed elephant. It is a free database that analyzes information more efficiently than traditional databases used in the past. Chief Executive officer Mike Olson says, “It was obvious to me that the problems that Google and Yahoo and Facebook had were the problems that the other companies were going to have later.” Companies quickly realized this problem. Today corporations such as General Electric, Walt Disney, Bank of America and Nokia have adopted Hadoop in their research analysis. Hadoop is applied to marketing, advertising, and customer relation tasks within a company.  In 2011, “1.8 zettabytes (1.8 trillion gigabytes) of data will be created and replicated”. This software will provide a handle on the overwhelming amount of unstructured information that corporations obtain. An important element of this unstructured information is the social media content regarding customer feedback.  Wal-Mart wants to gain insight into what their loyal customers truly want. Wal-Mart realized that the shopping experience is headed for a change. This generation is social and completely dependent on the Internet. Wal-Mart has about $6 billion in online sales. The corporation needed an outlet for its customers. Wal-Mart created @WalmartLabs, which contains the Social Genome, a network that connects millions of consumers with the most valuable products based on the customer’s interests. The social data analysis for @WalmartLabs uses Hadoop to “create language models so that the site can return product results if the shopper enters a related word”. This innovative thinking will make the customer’s online experience more enjoyable. Wal-Mart is hoping to gain information about a customer’s Facebook updates or Twitter status and apply it to a certain consumer good category.
            Hadoop’s growth in corporations shows the popularity of handling this overwhelming amount of data due to social media. The unstructured data makes up 80 percent of the company’s information. This data includes emails, documents and social media content. The fast and efficient performance of Hadoop has improved the quality of Wal-Mart’s research. I believe that this new software has greatly impacted Wal-Mart and other corporations. Doug Cutting has created an innovative network that has led to connecting customers with their favorite brands. He has helped corporations use social media to their advantage as well as control customer information. Right now, customer satisfaction has become the most important aspect in corporations. The main question is not how to attract customers but what do customers truly need. Hadoop is directing businesses to figure out this question by using social media.

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