Big Data: Analyze This!

Big Data

Big Data: Analyze This!

So, the other day I was reading a blog piece authored by Mike Urban in Bob’s Guide. Mike’s the Director of Product Management, Financial Crime Risk Management at Fiserv and flat-out knows his stuff. Mike did a good job discussing the challenges that organizations go through in using analytics in the battle against financial crimes.

Mike’s piece had me contemplating the phrase “big data” as it gets tossed around more often than a pizza these days. So, rather than my giving you a Rorschach test (what do these ink blots look like to you?), let’s lay down on the couch and analyze it in a little more detail.

Q: What’s the difference between a Model and a Supermodel?

A: One word.

Q: What’s the difference between Data and Big Data?

A: You already know where this is going…

The phrases “Big Data” and “Supermodels” are really not much different from the meaning of their root words. I suppose the emphasis (“Super” and “Big”) are intended to elevate ordinary words to a higher level to get our attention and attach importance to the phrase.

Really, however, I’m not sure there’s any difference between the two phrases at all. Both are a cliche as a “supermodel” is still a model and “big data” is still data at the end of the day.

Big Data Defined

But what exactly is big data and how is it (really) different from any other data?

Aside from the rhetorical questions above about the difference between data and big data, according to the dictionary “big data” is “extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.”

Data, like “The Dude,” abides, it exists and has a life of its own.

Breaking it down for those of us interested in the “F” Word, “human behavior and interactions” is really another way of saying patterns of unusual behavior (red flags) and “fraud.”

Size Doesn’t Matter

Can’t you do (analyze) the exact same thing with ordinary, run of the mill data? Certainly, but the people who originally coined the phrase “big data” gave it a catchy name so that it’s trendy and chic to those of us in the industry.

In this case, however, the trendy name (big data) isn’t the important part because the bottom line is that data is data, whether it’s big or small, is completely irrelevant. When it comes to data the old adage (size doesn’t matter – it’s what you do with it that counts) certainly proves true.

Data Impact

We can examine big data, small data and bytes of data to detect fraudulent behavior in transactions. Makes sense. That’s the good news.

The flip side of the big data coin (there always is one) is that this isn’t a matter of “he/she who has the most data wins”… again your company can have a ton of data which is completely meaningless because you have to do something productive with the data in your possession to make it a worthwhile exercise.

In other words, not only do you have to analyze the data but it has to be “actionable” in order for your company to derive benefit from it.

Additionally, you have to constantly evaluate the rules you’re using and the results returned to reduce the false positive rate, ensure the program is delivering meaningful results and increase the effectiveness of your corporate anti-fraud efforts.

The criminals aren’t static so you can’t be either.

Big data without action is certainly detrimental but data can also be detrimental merely because your company has it! Housing big data exposes your company to liability and the vulnerability associated with information attack (Sony: The Interview).

Again, there isn’t a more perfect example of the fact that data (proprietary and personal) is an asset, a commodity which has monetary and political power on the global black market that entities will go to great lengths to get.

The Sony case proves hacktivism and information attack on businesses, and the big data they possess, is alive and well.

It’s a pretty simple formula. Data is power and the entity (group, organization, country) that possesses it is in control while the company that gets compromised (I’m trying to write an entire blog without using the “B” word) isn’t. It can’t be any simpler than that.

The Last Word

Big data is clearly a double-edged sword, a kind of a love-hate (the good, the bad and the ugly) type thing. It does nothing on its own, has analytic value if used correctly while simultaneously exposing your company to information pirates and liability as we’ve seen so many times recently.

Companies in all verticals with big data present a “target rich environment” for global bad actors. So, it’s extremely important for businesses to not only act on the voluminous amount of data (big or otherwise) they have but protect it at all costs. The failure to act on your data, or protect it, greatly affects whether your company is still in business tomorrow.

Those are our insights. What are yours?

For more information on how we can help your businesses prevent risk, reduce major fraud losses and improve operational ROI, contact us to schedule an initial consultation. No obligations…just unique insights from an industry leader.