July 19


Using Analytic Tools for Big Data in Business

By Hanson Cheng

July 19, 2023

  • minute read
  • Last Updated on July 19, 2023 by Hanson Cheng

    As businesses generate more and more data daily, they realize the importance of leveraging this data to make informed decisions. However, handling and analyzing big data can be monumental without the right tools. Analytic tools for big data provide a powerful solution to decode the information and extract meaningful insights. Simply put, these tools provide companies with the necessary means to process and make sense of their complex datasets, enabling them to make data-driven decisions that can lead to substantial growth and increased efficiency.

    This article will delve into some of the most notable analytic tools for big data and how they can be leveraged to drive better business outcomes.

    What is Big Data?

    Big data has become a buzzword in this digital era, as companies deal with unprecedented data produced daily. However, big data is not just about the volume of data; it also refers to the diversity and speed at which it is produced. This necessitates complex methods and technologies for data processing and analysis. In general, big data refers to any data set that exceeds traditional processing capabilities in a single machine. It comprises a variety of data types, including unstructured, semi-structured, and structured data, such as text, images, video, audio, and sensor data.

    Due to the complexity of this data, traditional data processing and analytics tools are insufficient to handle it. As a result, analytical tools specifically designed for big data have become increasingly popular. These tools allow companies to extract valuable insights from their vast amount of data, which can help them enhance decision-making and achieve better business results. The required tools for big data analysis come under the umbrella of big data analytics, which includes a wide range of techniques, such as data mining, machine learning, natural language processing, predictive modeling, and statistical analysis.

    Thus, big data analytics is a crucial element in enabling organizations to harness the power of big data and effectively deal with the challenges it presents.

    The Challenges of Big Data Analytics

    One of the most significant challenges faced in big data analytics is managing the sheer volume of data. As data volumes continue to grow at an unprecedented pace, traditional data management tools and techniques proved inadequate to handle such massive amounts of information in real time. Another challenge is the heterogeneity of data, which poses a significant hurdle for data integration. Big data sources are often unstructured and come in various formats, such as images, videos, and social media feeds.

    This heterogeneity makes it challenging to process and analyze data using conventional query tools. Besides, data privacy and security are of paramount importance. The need to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations and safeguard against data breaches creates a need to handle data carefully. Furthermore, there is a shortage of skilled personnel with expertise in big data analytics. The massive amounts of data, complex data structures, and advanced programming languages require competent personnel to process and analyze the data effectively.

    Finally, big data analytics is dynamic, with new tools and techniques continually being introduced. As such, keeping up with the latest trends in big data analytics presents a significant challenge to organizations.

    The Purpose of Big Data in Decision-Making

    Big data has become integral to decision-making and strategy implementation in many organizations. With the increasing volume and complexity of data generated, analytic tools have become necessary for effective data management and analysis. The purpose of this paper is to explore the various analytic tools that are available for big data analysis. This exploration will include an analysis of the features and capabilities of different analytic tools, enabling data analysts to select the most appropriate tools for their needs.

    Data Collection


    Collecting data is an essential step in the process of making informed decisions. It requires a well-planned strategy to obtain the correct data sources with relevant information. Social media, web data, and IoT devices are a few popular sources used to collect data. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are invaluable resources for businesses to gain insight into their customers’ behavior. Web scrapers are an essential tool for collecting data from websites, providing an opportunity to understand the market and competitors.

    IoT devices like sensors, RFID tags, and GPS trackers are useful in collecting real-time data from various sources. Even with access to multiple sources, a method to ensure the data’s integrity is necessary. Data quality tools like Talend, Paxata, and Trifacta can profile the data and identify inaccuracies. This further enhances the credibility of the data collected and strengthens decision-making. In conclusion, gathering the right data is vital to producing actionable insights for an organization, and selecting the right source can make all the difference.


    When it comes to collecting big data, there is a wide range of tools available to help in the process. One of the most commonly used tools is the Apache Hadoop Ecosystem, which includes Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) for storage and Hadoop MapReduce for processing. This ecosystem is widely used due to its ability to handle massive amounts of data in a distributed system.

    Another popular tool in the data collection process is Apache Spark. This open-source analytics engine is designed for processing large-scale data that is stored in a distributed fashion. Along with its ability to handle big data, Spark also offers advanced analytics capabilities such as machine learning and graph processing.

    In addition to these popular tools, there are several others that are commonly used in the data collection process. Apache Kafka, for example, is a distributed streaming platform that is often used to collect real-time data. This tool is particularly useful for collecting large volumes of data from various sources in a real-time environment.

    Other tools that are commonly used in data collection include Apache Flume, Apache Storm, and Apache Drill. Apache Flume is a distributed, reliable, and available service for efficiently collecting, aggregating and moving large amounts of log data from many different sources to a centralized data store. Apache Storm is a distributed real-time computation system that is commonly used for processing streams of data in real-time. Finally, Apache Drill is a distributed schema-free SQL query engine designed to process large-scale datasets.

    Data Storage

    Different Types of Data Storage

    In any organization, data is the foundation for important decisions. Big data is becoming more popular, and with the adoption comes the need for appropriate tools to manage and manipulate the data. Data storage is an important aspect of this, and it can be categorized into two primary types: structured and unstructured. Structured data is usually stored in databases and can be easily retrieved, queried, and analyzed with the help of SQL-like querying languages. This data is typically used for logical and indexed data sharing in enterprise applications.

    Unstructured data, on the other hand, does not follow a specific format and could come in different forms, including emails, texts, images, videos, among others. Unstructured data is often difficult to analyze and could require different types of tools such as text analytics, machine learning, and natural language processing to gain insights.


    As the volume of data being generated by businesses continues to grow exponentially, organizations are increasingly looking for storage solutions that can cater to the vast amounts of information they generate and collect. The market is flooded with solutions that store data and offer analytics tools to exploit the data’s full potential. Some of the popular options available today include cloud-based storage, data warehouses, data lakes, and on-premise storage. Cloud-based storage is a popular option that offers almost limitless storage capacity at a lower cost.

    Data warehouses are primarily used to store structured data, making it easier for businesses to run analytical queries and gain insights. On the other hand, Data lakes are useful for storing vast amounts of raw data, including structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data types. They can be used to store every type of data, including data from social media platforms, customer data, and sensor data. On-premise storage is ideal for businesses requiring greater data control and security. With on-premise storage, businesses can keep their data within their premises and better control their access and security.

    Data Processing

    Batch Processing

    Big data processing requires efficient methods to handle and analyze massive volumes of data. One such effective technique involves batch processing. This method involves collecting a large set of data and processing it at once instead of processing continuous streams of data, such as with real-time processing. Batch processing is particularly useful when dealing with large amounts of data that need to be organized, filtered, or transformed. The process involves collecting data into a single batch, uploading it to a database or data warehouse, and processing it using parallel computing technologies.

    Real-time Processing

    Real-time processing is an integral component of big data analytics. It is crucial for organizations to be able to analyze vast datasets quickly and in real-time to make informed decisions that can impact the bottom line. Real-time processing refers to processing data as it is generated, without any delay. This process is essential for organizations that require real-time visibility and insights into their data. With real-time processing, organizations can gain insights into their data in real-time, enabling them to make quick decisions based on the data in front of them.

    Real-time processing is a highly complex task that involves processing large volumes of data generated by various sources such as social media, sensors, and devices. It requires advanced algorithms and processing techniques to analyze and make sense of this data. In addition, real-time processing requires high-performance computing systems that can effectively handle the vast amounts of data generated in real-time. The computing systems used for real-time processing are designed to handle complex algorithms and large volumes of data, and they are often equipped with specialized hardware such as GPUs and FPGAs to accelerate processing and improve performance.

    The benefits of real-time processing are significant, especially for organizations that rely on timely insights to make informed decisions. Real-time processing enables organizations to identify and respond to trends in real time, allowing them to swiftly react to changing market conditions or customer needs. For example, a retailer can use real-time processing to analyze sales data in real time and adjust their pricing and promotions to reflect current trends. Similarly, a financial institution can use real-time processing to detect fraudulent activities and take action to prevent them before any significant damage is done.

    Real-time processing is also crucial in the Internet of Things (IoT). With the growing number of IoT devices being deployed, there is an increasing need for real-time processing to analyze the vast amounts of data generated by these devices. IoT devices generate enormous volumes of data, and real-time processing enables organizations to gain insights into this data as it is generated, allowing them to make informed decisions based on the current state of their devices and systems.

    In conclusion, real-time processing is a critical component of big data analytics, enabling organizations to gain insights into their data in real time. It requires advanced algorithms, high-performance computing systems, and specialized hardware to analyze large volumes of data. Real-time processing helps organizations to identify trends, respond quickly to changing market conditions, and make informed decisions that can impact their bottom line. With the growth of IoT, real-time processing will only become more critical as organizations seek to gain insights into the vast amounts of data generated by IoT devices.

    Data Analysis

    Descriptive Analytics

    Describing data is an essential step in data analysis. The primary purpose of descriptive analytics is to summarize and present critical information contained in a dataset. It often involves the use of statistical measures and visualization techniques to translate complex data into a clear and straightforward format. Descriptive analytics typically involves creating a visual representation of the data, including frequency distributions, histograms, and scatter plots.

    These tools help to identify patterns and trends within the data, leading to a more in-depth understanding of the underlying information. It also helps to reveal outliers or anomalies that may be present in the data. Other techniques used in descriptive analytics include measures of central tendency, such as mean, median, and mode, all of which help to give a snapshot of the data’s typical characteristics. Variance, standard deviation, and range are other measures used to describe the dispersion of the dataset, such as how much the data points differ from the mean.

    Descriptive analytics is essential for data exploration, making it easier to identify trends and patterns that are not visible in raw data. Summarizing data makes it easier to spot outliers, missing values, and other anomalies that may skew analytical results. For example, in marketing analysis, descriptive analytics can be used to segment customers based on their demographics and purchasing behavior. This information helps marketers to target customers with relevant products or services based on their preferences.

    In health care, descriptive analytics can be used to summarize patient data, such as demographics, medical history, and recent treatments. This information helps healthcare providers develop interventions and treatments tailored to individual patient needs. In finance, descriptive analytics can identify stock price patterns and predict future trends, enabling investors to make informed decisions.

    Predictive Analytics

    Predictive analytics is one of the most widely used applications in big data. This technique involves the use of statistical algorithms and machine learning models to analyze data and extract valuable insights that can be used for forecasting future trends. Predictive analytics is used across various industries, including finance, healthcare, and retail, to predict customer behavior, identify potential risks, and optimize processes. In finance, predictive analytics is used to anticipate market trends and identify investment opportunities.

    In healthcare, it is used to predict patient outcomes and personalize treatment plans. In retail, it is used to forecast demand and optimize inventory management. Predictive analytics relies on a combination of historical data and real-time analytics to predict future outcomes. It involves several steps, including data preprocessing, feature selection, model training, and model evaluation.

    Prescriptive Analytics

    Prescriptive analytics is a branch of advanced analytics used to determine the best course of action for a given situation. This type of analytics goes beyond predicting outcomes and provides insight into the actions that should be taken in response to predictions.

    Prescriptive analytics is based on a combination of data, mathematical models, algorithms, and business rules, which help to generate recommendations and actions based on the expected outcomes of different alternatives. Generally, this type of analytics is used in areas where decision-making is critical, and the impact of incorrect decisions can be significant.

    Prescriptive analytics plays a vital role in determining the best course of action for a business when faced with complex decisions. It analyzes different options and recommends the best one based on different datasets. It aids companies in identifying the best course of action under different scenarios. By leveraging large data sets and sophisticated algorithms, prescriptive analytics can determine the best action for a specific situation and help organizations make data-driven decisions.

    Prescriptive analytics has a wide range of applications, from supply chain management to healthcare. The healthcare industry, for instance, uses prescriptive analytics to determine the best treatment plan for patients by analyzing a vast amount of data, including patient information, medical records, and historical data. This information helps doctors make data-driven decisions and develop the most efficient course of treatment to address the patient’s specific needs.

    Data Visualization

    Different Types of Data Visualization

    When it comes to data visualization, there are multiple types of plots and charts that can be used to represent data effectively. One type of plot commonly used is a scatter plot, a two-dimensional graph that uses points to represent variables. Another commonly used plot is a line graph, which uses lines to show the trend of a specific variable. Bar charts are also a popular choice when comparing data, as they use bars to represent values in a dataset. Heatmaps are another type of visualization that is beneficial for showcasing patterns in large datasets. These can be used for everything from analyzing website traffic to tracking stock market trends.

    In addition to these commonly used charts and plots, other types of visualizations can help represent specific data sets. For example, word clouds can be used to represent the frequency of certain words within a text document. Parallel coordinate plots can be effective for visualizing multi-variable data sets. Sankey diagrams can be used to showcase the flow of resources or relationships between elements. These are just a few examples of the many types of visualizations that can be used to represent data.

    The choice of visualization type will ultimately depend on the goals of the analysis and the message the data should convey. It is important to choose a type of chart or plot that is visually appealing and effectively communicates the data. The use of multiple types of visualizations can often be useful, as these can help show different aspects of the same dataset or provide alternative views of the same information. Ultimately, the key to effective data visualization is to choose the right types of visualizations that best represent both the data and the message that the data is meant to convey.


    When it comes to interpreting big data, one of the most critical aspects is data visualization. It allows businesses and analysts to understand the data at hand better, discover patterns and trends, and identify potential problems or opportunities. Numerous tools have been developed with varying features and capabilities to achieve this. Some of these tools specialize in particular types of data, such as geospatial data, while others are more general-purpose. Many of these tools are interactive, allowing users to quickly and easily filter, sort, and manipulate data according to their needs.

    Some of the commonly used data visualization tools include Tableau, QlikView, D3.js, and Plotly. Tableau is popular among beginners due to its ease of use and interactive drag-and-drop interface. Conversely, QlikView focuses on in-memory data exploration, making it ideal for larger datasets. D3.js is a powerful library that is highly customizable, allowing users to create visually stunning, data-driven interactive elements. Finally, Plotly offers numerous visualization options, interactive charts, dashboards, and real-time analytics.


    As we have seen, analytic tools for big data play a crucial role in extracting valuable insights and making data-driven decisions. The use of these tools enables organizations to cope with the sheer volume, velocity, and variety of data that is generated every day. The most popular analytic tools for big data include Hadoop, Spark, and NoSQL databases. Hadoop is an open-source framework that can store and process large amounts of data across multiple nodes in a cluster. Spark is a distributed computing engine that provides faster data processing and real-time analytics. NoSQL databases provide a flexible and scalable data model that can handle unstructured and semi-structured data.

    Analytical tools also enable organizations to apply advanced analytics techniques such as predictive modeling, machine learning, and data mining. These techniques help to uncover hidden patterns and correlations that might not be apparent using traditional business intelligence tools. For example, predictive modeling can be used to forecast future trends and identify opportunities for growth. Machine learning can be used to train algorithms to identify fraud or recommend products to customers. Data mining can be used to uncover insights from large data sets.

    Another key benefit of using analytical tools for big data is the ability to visualize data in a meaningful way. Data visualization enables users to quickly identify patterns and trends in data and to communicate these insights with stakeholders. There are several tools available for data visualization, such as Tableau, QlikView, and D3.js. These tools enable users to create interactive charts, dashboards, and reports that can be customized to meet specific business needs.

    Despite the benefits of using analytical tools for big data, there are also some challenges associated with their adoption. One of the main challenges is the complexity of the tools and the skills required to use them effectively. Organizations need to invest in training their employees on how to use these tools and to develop a data-driven culture that values data analysis and insights. Another challenge is the integration of different analytical tools and data sources. Organizations need to ensure that data is consistent and accurate across different systems and platforms.

    Future Directions

    As the demands for big data analysis continue to increase, it becomes critical to look at how the field will advance in the future. One promising direction is the integration of machine learning algorithms with big data analysis tools. The advent of deep learning has already shown promising results in areas such as image and speech recognition, and the application of these techniques to big data analysis may produce similar leaps in accuracy and efficiency.

    Additionally, the development of novel algorithms specifically tailored to the unique challenges of big data may also prove fruitful in establishing more effective data analysis methods. Another important direction is the exploration of new data visualization techniques. As the size and complexity of data sets continue to grow, it becomes increasingly important to develop intuitive and efficient methods of presenting and interpreting the results of data analysis.

    Finally, the integration of big data analysis tools with emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things and blockchain also holds promise in expanding the capabilities of these tools beyond their traditional applications. As the field of big data analysis continues to evolve, advances in these and other areas are likely to play a key role in addressing current challenges and driving further innovation in the field.

    Analytic Tools for Big Data – FAQs

    What are analytic tools for big data?

    Big data analytic tools refer to the software programs that help organizations collect, process, and analyze large, complex datasets to uncover patterns and insights that support data-driven decision-making.

    What are the types of analytic tools for big data?

    Some of the most common types of big data analytic tools include data mining, statistical analysis, data visualization, machine learning, and natural language processing tools.

    What is the importance of analytic tools for big data?

    Analytic tools for big data play a critical role in enabling organizations to derive insights and make decisions based on data-driven evidence. They enable organizations to identify patterns, trends, and insights that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to detect using traditional data analysis methods.

    How do analytic tools for big data work?

    Analytic tools for big data typically work by using algorithms and computational methods to analyze large, complex datasets in near-real-time. They may leverage different technology architectures, such as Hadoop clusters or cloud-based computing environments, to process and analyze data quickly and efficiently.

    What are the benefits of using analytic tools for big data?

    Some of the key benefits of using analytic tools for big data include the ability to uncover previously hidden insights, improve decision-making, boost organizational performance and efficiency, identify new revenue opportunities, and reduce costs.

    What are the challenges of using analytic tools for big data?

    Despite their many advantages, analytic tools for big data present several challenges, including data quality concerns, data privacy and security risks, technical complexity, and the need for specialized skills and knowledge. Organizations must invest in the right tools, infrastructure, and personnel to maximize the value of big data and avoid these pitfalls.

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    Hanson Cheng

    About the author

    Living in Portugal with my wife and puppies.
    Scaling online businesses and sharing lessons learned on this website and in our email newsletter.

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