Big Data . . . It’s Big and Getting Bigger

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Last week in my post Technology Tuesday, I talked briefly about how technology has and is changing our world on a daily basis. I provided examples of how I utilize technology but what I didn’t mentioned was the amount of data that is generated from these and other activities.

As a society we are constantly generating and collecting large amounts of data. By some estimates, we create roughly two and a half quintillion bytes of information on a daily basis. To put it into perspective, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt pointed out that “from the dawn of civilization until 2003, humankind generated five exabytes of data. Now we produce five exabytes every two days…and the pace is accelerating.”

In the information technology space, BIG DATA is the buzzword dejour and it will, whether we like it or not, change our world.

So what exactly is BIG DATA? Where does it come from? How will it shape our world in the future?

Gartner Research defines Big Data as high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision-making.

Simply put, “Big Data” refers to the massive amounts of data that has been collected over time. It can be any type of data and includes both structured and unstructured data. Structured data, is identifiable data of specific information that is stored based on an organized methodology or structure. (think of traditional databases  with columns and rows)  Unstructured data is information or data that is not organized in a pre-defined manner. Things like emails, texts, videos, presentations, documents, etc.

Data comes from everywhere and is often being generated without thought as to how it is collected, who is collecting it, and how it might be used.

It’s constantly being collected by untold number of sources, sensors, surveillance (both audio &video), and the like. Whether its the web address you were just at, the email you sent, the cell phone call you made, the street you just walked down, or that purchase transaction you just complete, in todays digital world, what you do, how you did it, and with whom, is being gather, collected and assimilated.

Companies spanning all sectors and sizes are collecting, analysis, and sharing (buying and selling) the vast amounts of data we are now generating. Recent research indicates that more than 85 percent of organizations have big data efforts in action or planned. These companies understand the massive potential that big data provides to help answer business questions.

Big data provides access to more data, tools and resources than ever before. It allows us to measure and track everything in a different, faster, and potentially better way. The business of Big Data is only going to grow (currently forecast to be $50 billion by 2017), as the volume of data increases.

Jeff Kelly, Wikibon’s Big Data analyst says  “For those organizations that understand and embrace the new reality of Big Data, the possibilities for new innovation, improved agility, and increased profitability are nearly endless.”

Bottom line: Big data is big and it’s getting bigger. More and more data is being collected and stored about each one of us than ever before. Big Data will transform how we live, work, and think moving forward.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Feel free to leave a comment.

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