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Friday, May 23

What is "Big Data"?

I get asked this often, usually by management level types who have heard it as a buzz word and really want to understand how it affects their business. Here's how I broke it down to my 14 year old.

If you look at the press (news, TV, commentators) big press means anything that has to do with the words, pictures and connections that people put on "social sites".

In the business world Big Data means ... well ... a lot of data. And I don't mean a little, I mean a ton. Think on the order of Billions of rows of data. A good rule of thumb would be any data that is over a Tera-byte in size. And that's the minimum.

The third thing "Big Data" could refer to is volume speed. It might not be huge in size, but how fast does the data get generated.

For example, let's say you record the date and time for any phone ring that happens within the United States in the next 30 min. And you had to pinpoint the busiest phone out of all the phones in the US. The data volume size is small. But the volume of data that comes in is crazy, your talking 2 million data points a second. And your "Big Data Solution" has to make some decision on that data within 60 seconds.

This is really the "new" and revolutionary part of Big Data as only recently (in the last 5 years) has the average computing power been strong enough to handle this volume at that speed.

The other reason "Big Data" is considered as new is because businesses have started to take new approaches to it. The goal is to figure out how all this data can be used to "hit" the bottom line.

Personal Opinion: 
The challenge that I see with Big Data is letting your solutions be driven by a measurable ROI or a measurable impact to customer.

The "Big Data" solutions that succeed are those that start with one of those two objectives in mind and move from there.

Nebulously built "repositories"/"reporting ware houses"/"business data troughs" don't really thrive in the long run. (Notice I said thrive, they serve a purpose and can be of value, but they don't generate that spark that makes the C-Level executives go nuts.)

So to put it concisely

  1. Big Data is not social data
  2. Big Data can refer to physical data size
  3. Big Data can refer to the speed of incoming data
  4. The goal is to use Big Data to affect the bottom line

Check my Facts:
IBM Article - Analytics-The real-world use of big data


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