Big Data: What is it?

These days, it seems like all some people in the business world are talking about is this idea of “Big Data.”  But what does that even mean, and why does it matter?  Big Data is really used to refer to a lot of things, and after our recent MD dumpster rental delivery to   the Expedient Data Center in Owings Mills, we decided to do a little research of our own.

Data is really just information, and the real concept of big data is that more and more information is produced each year.  In fact, 90% of the data available was produced in the past two years.  This information comes in many forms, from anything from purchase transaction records to your favorite celebrity’s twitter account.  You’d be surprised what information is out there.

There are a variety of companies that provide different services with regard to big data.  Many companies, like Dropbox, Google, and our friends at Expedient, offer data storage services, which is basically exactly what it sounds like.  Other companies, like IBM and other consulting firms, offer data analytics, which refers more to helping companies make use of all of the information out there in terms of real decision-making.  

Often, this means using data for its predictive value.  After his extremely accurate predictions of the past few presidential elections launched him to international fame, the statistician Nate Silver wrote a book called The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t about precisely that.  It turns out that although most people realize that big data holds a lot of potential, very few have actually been able to properly harness it and benefit from it.

For more information, check out SAS’s explanation of big data.