Chris J Powell

What is Big Data?

It seems that every day there is another reference to Big Data and for me…this term seems more nebulous than “The Cloud”.  Rather than see what is lurking around the corner today and peek behind yet another crack in the wall…I looked to “Big Blue” for their definition:


Big data spans three dimensions: Variety, Velocity and Volume.

  • Variety – Big data extends beyond structured data, including unstructured data of all varieties: text, audio, video, click streams, log files and more.
  • Velocity – Often time-sensitive, big data must be used as it is streaming in to the enterprise in order to maximize its value to the business.
  • Volume – Big data comes in one size: large. Enterprises are awash with data, easily amassing terabytes and even petabytes of information.


So as we amass more than 2.5 Quintillion bytes of information EVERY DAY (to put this into perspective that is enough data to fill 2.5 Million 1 TB Hard Drives).  If we were to stack these drives on top of each other…we would have a tower of data that stood 62,500 meters tall (or 205,000 feet) which is almost enough to reach the Ozone Layer and  exit the Stratosphere.


So what are we using this massive amount of data for?  Well as the IBM sponsored White Paper – “Understanding Big Data” points out everything we do in the digital world from our Facebook Posts to Email’s to the pictures we take and Text Messages we sent all contribute to this Digital onslaught of Data.  Now with so much information being harvested and stored…what does it mean for companies looking to get better at the things they are most interested in doing (ie sell more to more customers)?


Leveraging better and targeted Business Intelligence and Analytics can vastly improve the quality of service to existing customers but also increase the connection being made to potential new customers.  The real question is how do you get the right information to the users who need it in ways that make sense to them?   If we turn back to one of the most impressive implementations of Big Data in 2011 we look back to IBM once more and the battle of Watson vs. Jeopardy Champions.  Now while Watson ended up loosing to the humans…think about the potential for the future…can you say SkyNet???




Chris J Powell

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