Uncovering the Possibilities of Big Data

What is Big Data?

On searching the definition of the term ‘Big Data’, you’ll probably come across a plethora of varied definitions which will leave you more confused than ever before. So, putting in simple terms- Big Data can be defined as collection of data that is so large and complex that it cannot be processed using traditional data processing applications. Big data demands a very powerful infrastructure and incredibly sophisticated applications for its processing and analytics. Big data holds tremendous potential in terms of providing valuable insights and solving complex problems, but most of this potential remains largely untapped. There are several roadblocks to the realization of this potential like- complexity, scale and privacy problems.

Big data can be roughly categorized in the following two categories:
  • Unstructured Data: As the name suggests, unstructured data cannot be easily organized or construed by databases and mostly comprises of data in text format. Unstructured data would encompass things like Twitter feed, social media posts etc.

  • Multi-Structured Data: Unlike unstructured data, multi-structured data consists of multiple data formats and types. Such data is generated from the interaction between humans and machines. To serve as an example, the data with a combination of text and images would be categorized as multi-structured data.

    Unstructured data sets on their own have very little to offer. Real breakthrough’s will only emerge when the sets of unstructured data are linked together. Gartner indicates that the challenges associated with big data are not only in terms of the sheer volume, but other factors like variety of the data and the velocity at which it is being generated, also come into play.

    The Possibilities of Big Data

    In this age of information, data is being generated at an unprecedented rate (2 quintillion bytes/day). Big Data analysis has become a need of the hour, as most of the decisions are becoming data driven rather than just guesswork. Big Data seems to hold the key to revolutionizing fields like scientific research, education and healthcare. But in this post we’ll focus on how it can benefit business organizations across all sectors. As organizations can save more transactional data, they are in a position to analyze key performance areas like- product inventories and sick days to find possible bottlenecks. Most of the top firms are already using big data analytics to make better management decisions. While all sectors stand to gain from big data, a few sectors will have greater gains. Some of these sectors face more challenges than others hence the implementation of big data in these sectors can become difficult. Sectors like finance, insurance, electronic products will gain significantly more in comparison with the other sectors. McKinsey Global Institute suggests that a retailer using big data efficiently can increase the operating margin by more than 60%. Another area where Big Data comes to aid is micro-segmentation i.e. creating very specific population segments which is otherwise difficult to achieve. Such micro-segmentation is invaluable for promotion and advertising. When the personal location data is utilized for enabling services, it will allow consumers to capture a staggering $600 billion in economic surplus. There are numerous such applications of Big Data just waiting to be explored. It is worth observing how technology will tackle the challenges and harness the potential of Big Data.

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