Big Data: You Don't Know What You Don't Know

“You don't know what you don't know” was the resounding message at the I Love it When You Call Me Big Data day-long summit held by the Pittsburgh Technology Council* last week.

Thanks to the reach of the Internet and today's low data storage costs, we are now accumulating geopbytes of information that include text messages, photos, videos, and browsing activities. What’s a geopbyte, you ask? Click here.

The growing use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, is quite literally — ok, figuratively — creating an information gold mine. With the right tools and expertise a business can know their customer, target their audience, focus their operations, and grow their bottom line.

But, as speaker Pamela Peele, Ph.D., Chief Analytics Officer, UPMC Health Plan & UPMC Enterprises expressed so well, “Big Data is not for the weak of wallet.”

Her organization has over $1 billion dollars (that’s with a “B”) invested in technology that runs their health network and provides a mega-mountain of data to analyze.

In manufacturing, big data can take many forms within supply chain transactions, as described by John Miller, Vice President-Information Technology for American Textile Company. They sell pillows and mattress covers to big box stores that do business using via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transactions. They also collect point-of-sale (POS) data from their customer's websites. This information is used to determine the planogram  the diagram that indicates placement of retail products on shelves in order to maximize sales  and to compare shipments to sales. The world's largest retailer,, uses EDI exclusively to run their operation, collecting actionable data all along the way.

Everything big starts out small. The data you collect in your business system today will grow over time into a wealth of information that you can analyze to learn what you don't know now about your customer. "Collect everything," said the experts, and someday you, too, will be sitting on an information gold mine to grow your business with. More about the Big Data Summit.

* xTuple is a 2017 member of the 1,300+ strong Pittsburgh Technology Council which represents tech sector companies at all growth stages, from hardware and IT to Life Sciences and Application developers. Add in leading-edge professional service firms, and the PTC is the largest regional IT trade association in the nation, acting as the voice of Pittsburgh’s thriving technology industry. Learn more about PTC events

Rebecca Shapiro

Senior Consultant — xTuple ERP and xTupleCommerce, July 2016 - May 2018

Rebecca joined xTuple’s Professional Services Team as a field consultant and implementer in July 2016 from customer ASSET STEM Education, where she served as Director of Business Technology. As the senior technologist at ASSET, she directed planning, budgeting and coordination of all activities for the technology department, including the xTupleCommerce Customer Web Portal project with xTuple. Rebecca previously worked in small business IT management with True Commerce and Development management for FreeMarkets. Rebecca is a graduate of Pittsburgh’s Chatham University with a BA in Management of Information Systems and is based in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.