What Is Big Data? Everything You Need To Know About The Technology
‘Big Data’ is a term that many business leaders use, yet despite that, many of them don’t understand where it comes from and what it does. Market Watch mentions that the big data market is likely to hit $118.5 billion by 2022. For an emerging technology that is on everyone’s lips, it’s exceedingly misunderstood. Let’s take a dive into Big Data and try to understand what makes this particular technology such an essential part of current and future business.
Big Data Defined
Forbes defines Big Data as a collection of data from both digital and traditional sources that may be used for ongoing analysis and discovery. Gartner expands on this definition by offering the idea that Big Data consists of high velocity, high volume, and/or high variety information. Most companies that use Gartner’s definition refer to these principles as the “Three V’s of Big Data.” In essence, all these definitions tell us is that data stems from multiple sources, and can come in several chunks covered in one or more different formats.
Types of Big Data
Understanding Big Data only starts with the definition. There are two broad categories of data that form the body of Big Data. These are:
- Unstructured Data: This type of data is difficult to organize with traditional methods. It doesn’t work well with databases and is usually text-heavy in its formatting. Good examples include Twitter posts of website metadata.
- Multi-Structured Data: This type of data delves into interactions between machines and people. Form data or transactional information are good examples of this type of data. As the progression of Big Data becomes more ubiquitous, structured data will evolve to encompass more areas of currently unstructured data.
Big Data in Industry
Big Data and analytics have made an impact on several industries. As a disruptive technology, Big Data has forced companies to rethink the way they see data and the generation of leads. As The New York Times notes, data can now be classified as its own economic resource, along the same lines as currency or gold. IBM also mentions that the reach of Big Data is so wide-ranging that it can be found in industries as distinct as banking, telecommunications, insurance, and manufacturing.
How Does Big Data Affect Business?
The most significant impact that Big Data brings to any business is the ability to generate insights. However, it requires a trained professional to know what metrics to keep an eye on to help the company adapt to changes in the data. Harvard Business Review mentions that coming up with metrics is the simple part, but using those metrics to generate insights is difficult. How data analysts determine where to look for the clues that will benefit a business’ growth, and stability comes from a combination of experience and previous data.
Integrating Big Data into businesses may be a lot easier than most companies assume. There is already a pool of traditional data existing within the company’s data collection system. Whether that collection is through questionnaires or payment receipts, the business has a core pool of data to start with. Taking this core pool and bringing in digital assets such as social media interaction, online purchases, etc. allows for a broader picture to be developed and gives a data scientist more points to work with when looking at metrics that are likely to affect the business’ growth and profitability.
With a well-developed Big Data system, companies can see data in real-time and use that data to make decisions that will affect the business’ competitiveness. Smart Data Collective mentions that companies can start benefiting from their Big Data implementations through analysis of customers, inventory, or sales, each one impacting the long-term viability of the company. For companies interested in figuring what they could be doing better, Big Data through the power of analytics can answer a lot of the burning questions they may have.
The Future of Big Data
Big Data is only as powerful as the methods used to garner that data. Datamation mentions that the future of Big Data lies with the implementation of other emerging technologies such as IoT, predictive analytics, edge computing, and machine learning. With the invention of infrastructure such as 5G network communication, these technologies are geared to bring about a new age of data collection and use.
The Crucial Step
For a business considering investing in Big Data, the data collection and storage is just the first step. If a company uses its data to generate insights in crucial areas, it still fails to use its Big Data system properly if an implementation of suggestions doesn’t happen. A company’s success in the future comes from knowing how to implement its data analytics system best to give them actionable results. Anything else is just experimenting with cool technology that won’t impact the company in a meaningful way.