What is Big Data?

Collecting user data is a powerful and influential way to know your customer base intimately. While there’s a lot of confusion on what the term means, many different companies have different ways of describing it.

Big Data is the collection of information by digital and traditional means that allows business to evaluate their customer base. In defining the term, it’s important to understand the mix of data that it is comprised of.

Types of Data
The collection of information is often broken down into traditional/analog data and digital. However, it should also be analyzed further into multi-structured and unstructured data.

Multi-structured data is about a mixture of formats that are derived from interactions between machines and people. This involves human input from social media and other web applications. This is the information that is grabbed from profiles and is a mixture of text and visual images.

Unstructured data is traditionally text heavy and comes from traditional database models. This is any metadata collected from tweets or other social media posts.

The Three V’s
While the term “big data” may seem new and unfamiliar, the act of gathering this information first gained momentum in the early 2000’s. The three V’s were established for data collection to be meaningful and qualify as a success.

  • Volume – Big data is just what it is, an incredibly vast amount of information. Organizations and companies want to collect data from a large variety of sources including social media, machine-to-machine data, and business transactions.
  • Velocity – The speed in which data streams with our current technology is unbelievable. With the amount of data that it is collected, it must be dealt with in a timely manner. Sensors, Smart devices, and RFID tags are creating a need to deal with this data in a real-time fashion.
  • Variety – The collected data, as mentioned above, comes in all types of formats. The collection of textual and visual images are all helpful for analytics.

The Potential for Big Data Use
While the concept seems to be viable for information, how is this data used? Big data affects a variety of organizations in almost every industry.

Banks currently face issues of finding innovative ways to understand their customers and boost satisfaction. While big data brings insights, it requires financial institutions to stay one step ahead with advanced forms of informational breakdown.

If the education system is armed with this insight, it can make a massive impact on our current curriculum. Not only can this information help with the evaluation of students, but it will also be able to help identify the progress of individuals and pick out those who are at-risk.

Government agencies with the ability to apply big data can gain significant ground when it is running agencies and managing utilities. If these types of organizations choose to use this information they must also address the issues of an individuals privacy and maintain transparency.