What is Big Data?
Big Data is the term used to describe our ability to make sense
of the ever-increasing volumes of data in the world. Whether you
call it big data, analytics, business intelligence or data analysis
doesn't really matter that much. What does matters is that we can
now collect and analyse data in ways that wasn't possible even a
few years ago. Big Data is starting to transform most areas of
business, industry, research and most other parts of our lives.
Size, Speed and Structure
Big Data does not simply refer to the ever-increasing size of
data sets we can now analyse, but also to the speed at which is it
created and used as well as the different types and structures of
data we can now analyse.
Size is one component of big data. We generate more data than
ever before. If we took all the data that was created in the world
between the beginnings of time until the year 2000, then the same
amount of data is now generated every few minutes. In fact, over
90% of the data in the world was created in the past couple of
Speed is another important component. The speed at which we
generate new data and the speed at which data moves around is
phenomenal. Every minute we send over 200 million emails, click
almost 2 million likes on Facebook, send almost 300K tweets and
up-load 200K photos to Facebook as well as 100hours of video to
YouTube. In addition, think of all the web searches conducted
(about 3.5 billion a day for Google alone), all the sensor data
gathered, all the credit card transactions, all the mobile phone
location data, etc.
Structure is a third component of Big Data. In the past we
mainly relied on structured data, the type that we can put into
tables and neatly organise, such as sales transactions by customer,
region, etc. Less structured data, such as text files, photographs,
video content etc. was largely ignored. Today, we have the ability
to use and analyse a large variety of data including written text,
spoken words, even the tone in our voice, as well as biometric
data, photographs and video content.
How is Big Data Used?
The applications of Big Data are endless; here are just a few
examples of how some of our customers use it:
- Companies use big data to better understand and target
customers by bringing together data from their own transactions as
well as social media data and even weather predictions.
- Businesses optimise their processes by tracking and analysing
their supply chain delivery routes and combine that data this with
live traffic updates. Others use machine data to optimise the
service cycles of their equipment and predict potential
- Big Data is used in healthcare to find new cures for cancer, to
optimise treatment and even predict diseases before any physical
- Big Data is used to analyse and improve the performance of
individuals (at sports, at home or work) where data from sensors in
equipment and wearable devices can be combined with video analytics
to get insights that traditionally where impossible to see.
- Police forces and security agencies use big data to prevent
cyber attacks, detect credit card fraud, foil terrorism and even
predict criminal activity.
- Big Data is used to improve our homes, cities and countries by
e.g. optimising the heating or lighting in our homes, the traffic
flow in our cities, or the energy grit across the country.
The applications of Big Data are endless. Big Data matters to
every business, of any size, in any industry. To learn more read
studies or get in touch if you would like to discuss our
Big Data consulting or training