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Why is Big Data so Big?

It is difficult to talk about IT at the moment without hearing the phrase ‘big data’ but why has small data got big and how can businesses make the most of this data explosion?

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First of all big data is defined as datasets that have grown so large and change so quickly that they have become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools.

Big data does require exceptional technologies to efficiently process large quantities of data within tolerable elapsed times, without the appropriate technology processing customer information, sales information or HR data could take days or even months.

The types of technology being applied to big data include massively parallel processing (MPP) databases, datamining grids, distributed file systems, distributed databases, cloud computing platforms, the internet, and scalable storage systems.

What’s the big deal?

Data is quite literally exploding, creating huge opportunities for companies to change the way they do business. “Where has this massive amount of data come from all of a sudden?” I hear you ask.

A startling 90% of all data that exists in the world today was created in just the past two years; we create around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day. The growth in social media, online video and mobile GPS signals, to name a few, has massively amplified the amount of data we use and create every day, making 2012 the year of data.

How can businesses make the most of the data explosion?

Big data is presenting opportunities for every industry to benefit from. Data can be mined from the public sector, business and the academic world for research to answer questions about efficiency, effectiveness and productivity in ways that were never previously possible.

Every business has the potential to see some value from the right analysis of big data but, according to the experts, sectors including retail, manufacturing and the public sector (especially healthcare) are ideally positioned to reap its potential rewards.
To put it simply, big data can generate value. Research suggests that using big data properly could increase operating margins by as much as 60% as, if used in the right way, big data can make information transparent and produce accurate performance analysis to help management teams making key decision.

Big data allows a business to break down its client base in great detail, helping to tailor make products and services that are right for clients.

“More hyped than reality”

Although Philip Davis, Dell’s vice president of Enterprise Solutions, Asia Pacific and Japan, dismissed big data as “more hyped than reality”, commentators have billed big data as essential to gain a competitive advantage in 2012.

As more and more technologies are being developed and improved to handle the demands of these huge datasets, companies are being given access to more detailed customer and business performance information than ever.

It remains to be seen how this will affect those companies that do not keep up, but for me having a full picture of how your company is performing or what your customers need can only be a good thing.

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