What is Big Data – and how can you use it?

The amount of available data constantly grows, which presents new possibilities in relation to obtaining invaluable knowledge. However, the expanding data quantities also place greater demands on the systems that are to handle it.

Volume, variation and velocity

The notion ‘Big Data’ refers to the large quantities of data that is created by people, systems and machines today; data that is characterised by a lack of structure. One of the reasons for the lack of structure is that the data stems from many different sources, meaning that the data may occur in the form of text, numbers, images and much more.

While the amount of accessible data increases, so does the velocity in which it is generated.

This hotchpotch of high volume, variation and velocity naturally places great demands on the systems for storing, distributing and processing the data. Consequently, it may be difficult for organisations to make full use of the knowledge that lies within the large data quantities.

Where does it all come from?

The discussion about Big Data stems from a development in the ways in which data is generated.

Years ago, data was primarily generated by employees who feed it directly into computer systems. Along with the widespread of the internet, larger and larger quantities of data are now also created by the individual consumer through social media and the like.

However, apart from employees and consumers manually entering data, there is a third factor. Buildings, vehicles, surveillance systems, manufacturing machinery and the like creates enormous amounts of data today.

The increase in manually and automatically generated data constantly presents new possibilities for obtaining valuable knowledge.

What does that all mean to your company?

Big data is not just for large multinational companies – your company probably also generate large quantities of data which is not utilised in a structured manner today, or may not be directly accessible.

All dependent on which type of company you work for, it is likely that there are some sources of great quantities of data, such as:

  • PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller)
  • Customer counters
  • Call centres
  • SCADA (Screen Capture And Data Analysis)
  • Utility readers
  • GIS (Geographic Information System)
  • Social media
  • Homepage statistics

Effective processing of data created from sources such as these may provide you with indispensable knowledge as well as it may help you predict trends and developments.

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