What is Big Data? Everything you need to know

Big Data - latest statistics

- By 2020, 1.7 megabytes of data will be created every second, for every person on earth (EMC)

- Worldwide big data market is worth $57bn, and should grow to hit $76bn by the end of 2020 (SNS Research)

- Six million developers worldwide are currently working on big data and advanced analytics (Evans Data Corporation

Big Data: What’s New 

19/07 - FEATURE: Matt Barsby/G-Research - Big data and the real world: Can visualisations help bring the two together? - The amount of data being collected has increased significantly but it provides little use unless it can be interpreted...

13/07 - FEATURE: Philip Woods/KRCS Group Ltd - Why Big Data demands new technology - Taking the time to understand and utilise big data analytics could transform how your business operates...

10/07 - FEATURE: Carol McDonald/MapR Technologies - Five big data trends in healthcare - Healthcare providers and executives are utilising big data to improve patient outcomes while lowering costs - these are some of the major trends around today. ..

07/07 - FEATURE - Why mapping could be the key to unlocking your data's potential - As businesses deal with higher amounts of data, how can you make the most of the torrent of information created every day?

06/07 - NEWS FEATURE: Ron Beck/AspenTech - How Big Data can enhance refining reliability - Data analytics has significant potential across the downstream sector - here’s a closer look at how the energy industry is utilising data analytics to improve uptime and efficiency…

05/05 - FEATURE: Martin Willcox/Teradata - Businesses and the Big Data Skills Gap: A global challenge - The way we work is transforming at an extraordinary rate, but the success of the digital economy depends on businesses being able to hire and retain skilled data-literate workers...

03/05 - FEATURE: Jon Roughley/Experian - Building business: How Big Data is driving demand for new skills - The role of the data scientist is evolving, and organisations are in need of professionals who can take on data organisation...

02/05 - NEWS - Big data now a $57 billion market - New report says that investments in big data are expected to grow at a CAGR of roughly 10 per cent over the next four years, reaching $76 billion by the end of 2020... 

19/04 - FEATURE: Ravi Dharnikota/SnapLogic - Will the cloud save big data? - Employees up and down the value chain are eager to dive into big data, but in many ways, big data is in the midst of transition…

You can read all our big data stories here

(Image: © Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

What is Big Data? 

In a world that is rapidly becoming smarter and more connected, huge amounts of information are being generated and uploaded to the internet every day. This data can often hold incredibly useful insights for businesses, hiding information on such areas as customer habits, data trends, and much more.

Data now comes in many forms, ranging from website cookies to social media posts, which means that processing this information is not easy. The unstructured nature of data in the modern world has led to the rise of ever-more advanced analytics programs attempting to make sense of the data deluge.

Broadly speaking, Big Data refers to these datasets, that are so large that they can no longer be processed through traditional methods of analysis.

The goal of Big Data analytics is to generate insights that translate into tangible business benefits. These could be relating to real-time events or even future trends. 

(Image: © Image source: Shutterstock/Mikko Lemola)

Big Data FAQ

  • What industries can benefit from big data? 

As companies in nearly every major industry sector are now becoming more connected, the potential of big data is being realised across the world. Due to the sheer scale of data being created every day, there is no real limit to what businesses can benefit from the technology.

Although traditional technology companies were among the first to fully embrace the idea of big data, insights are now common across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, transport, retail, marketing and many others.

  • Who are some of the big players in the big data sector? 

Due to the incredibly wide range of use cases and benefits that big data can bring, the area has attracted a lot of attention.

With analytics and infrastructure proving particularly lucrative, many of the world’s biggest and most famous computing companies have flocked to ensure their services can deal with the challenges big data bring. From IBM to SAP, and Oracle to SAS, it’s hard to find a major technology firm that isn’t involved with big data in some way.

However the industry is also a great opportunity for start-ups and growing businesses to demonstrate new and novel ways of analysing and utilising mountains of data

  • Can big data save my business money? 

Although effective Big Data analysis does require some financial investment, it could save your business significant sums in the long run. 

Manufacturing firms, for example, are now using analytics to better assess the lifespan of their equipment, so that it is only replaced when necessary. By analysing vast quantities of sensor information, businesses can get a better idea of when a component is likely to fail and when it still has plenty of life left in it. 

  • Is gathering and analysing big data legal? 

Many of the challenges facing organisations centre around data collection, and specifically whether the public are made aware of when their data is being collected and what it is being used for. We now live in an age where so much information about our daily lives is widely available. Smartphones keep a constant record of our location, our social media profiles record our likes and dislikes and application permissions often ask for more data than is seemingly necessary. 

Businesses that are overzealous with their data collection risk alienating their customers. A number of studies have been conducted that evaluate when customers are willing for their data to be used and when they are not. 

  • How can my business securely store big data? 

Big Data has meant that organisations are storing more consumer information than ever before, some of it of a highly sensitive nature. 

This increases the fallout of any data breaches, so companies must ensure that their security protocols are robust enough to safeguard valuable information. In addition, businesses should be careful not to share customer data with third parties without public consent. Businesses that sell on consumer data can experience reputational damage if that data is then used irresponsibly. 

(Image: © Image source: Shutterstock/Carlos Amarillo)

Big Data resources 

Oracle what is big data? - An overview of the big data landscape from one of the world’s most important tech firms

Github big data repository - A collection of some of the best online tools to get you started with big data