The phrase ‘Big Data’ has in recent times become a popular jargon. It has been used, overused and used incorrectly that it is difficult to decipher what it really means. In this post, we shall be demystifying Big data and seeing why it is considered one of the most promising technologies of the decade.
Big data refers to the massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large it is difficult to process using traditional techniques. So Big Data is just what it sounds like – a whole lot of data. Social media, online books, videos, music and all kinds of information have all added to the staggering amount of data that is available, as more of this information have become digitized. All these data can then be analyzed, and value can be gotten from it.
Categories of Big Data
Big Data may be well-organized, unorganized or semi-organized. Based on the data form in which it is stored, the data is categorized into three forms:
Structured Data – Data accessed, processed, and stored in a fixed format or form is called as structured data. The example of this data form is a table ‘Student’ storing different fields for the different students containing the data in rows and columns.
Unstructured Data – Data without any structure or a specific form is called as unstructured data. It becomes difficult to process and manage unstructured data. Examples of unstructured data may be data sources with images, text, videos, etc.
Semi-structured Data – This kind of data contains the combination of both structured and unstructured data. It has a structured form but not defined as a table. The examples include data in an XML file.
It is also important to note that Big data is not only about the amount of data that is generated, but also the different types of data (text, video, search logs, sensor logs, customer transactions, etc.). In fact, Big Data has four important characteristics that are known in the industry as the 4 V’s:
Volume – the increasing amount of data that is generated every second
Velocity – the speed at which data is being generated
Variety – the different types of data being generated
Veracity – the messiness of data, i.e. its unstructured nature
Big Data’s recent popularity has been due in large part to new advances in technology and infrastructure that allow for the processing, storing and analysis of so much data. Computing power has increased considerably in the past five years while at the same time dropping in price – making it more accessible to small and midsize companies. In the same vein, the infrastructure and tools for large-scale data analysis has gotten more powerful, less expensive and easier to use.
Why Businesses Should Care
Using Big Data has been crucial for many leading companies to outperform the competition. In many industries, data-driven strategies are being used to compete and innovate. Examples of big data usage are far reaching, from IT to healthcare and beyond.
Data has always been used by businesses to gain insights through analysis. The emergence of Big Data means that they can now do this on an even greater scale, considering more and more factors. By analyzing greater volumes from a more varied set of data, businesses can derive new insights with more accuracy. This directly contributes to improved performance and decision making within an organization.
A good example of how big data can help in customer satisfaction is in customer profiling. These days, customers are smarter when making purchases. They would compare different options and talk to one or two people before deciding on what to purchase. Big data can help an organization to profile such customers and engage in real-time, with these customers to gain competitive advantage. The customers’ preferences are then known, and tailored/relevant solutions/products can then be offered.
This is just one of the benefits of Big data. Other benefits include:
Big data helps to redevelop new products
It helps in data safety
It helps to perform risk analysis
It helps to create new revenue streams
There’s no doubt that Big Data will continue to play an important role in many different industries around the world. It can do wonders for a business organization. With proper management of Big Data, Businesses will be more productive and efficient.