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Every click on every website: data. Every customer call and credit card transaction: data. Every tweet or Facebook post: junk. (Kidding: It's data!) And until recently, companies had a hard time putting that stuff to good use. Splunk can, though. It makes sense of "big data" by monitoring, collecting, and indexing it in real time, creating opportunities for its clients to improve business operations and save money. That, in turn, creates revenue opportunities for Splunk: The company went public last year and is now worth nearly $3 billion. Its revenue grew by $70 million in 2012, and its roster of 5,000 clients has increased by 400 a quarter. Rutgers University, for example, can use Splunk to search for the term error and find anything that might be slowing down its students' class registration. Comcast, another client, can compare granular data on what customers are watching--say, the top three on-demand videos in New York between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.--then use the data to tweak its marketing. "In seconds, instead of hours, you can find exactly what you need," says Steve Sommer, Splunk's CMO.

Big Data Revenue Growth, According To IDC

[Illustration by Romualdo Faura]