What is Big Data?

Doug Bannister, Founder & CTO
January 6, 2015
image of real-time stock information on screen

Fueling the move to leverage data to improve business processes is the wide spread interest and discussion around the term “Big Data”. This popular term is often used to describe the huge growth and availability of both structured and unstructured data. Generally, there are 5 V's highlighted when talking about big data – Volume, Variety, Veracity, Velocity and Value.

There has been an exponential growth in the availability and volume of data. Virtually all devices are now generating data, in some way, shape, or form. Think of the volume of data being generated by your mobile phone today versus your home phone 5-10 years ago. Back then your phone led to a simple entry of name, address, and phone number in a printed phone book. Now the device, the apps on it and the technology in it like the GPS and Bluetooth all generate data.

Other more unexpected things like rail cars and jet engines also generate huge volumes of data. Rail cars can have upwards of 200 sensors on them that analyse things such as speed, velocity, temperature, pressure across a whole trip. Jet engines are packed with sensors and one engine can generate half a terabyte of data an hour.

So what do you do with all of this data? How do you leverage this in your organization? Of the 5 Vs, Value is perhaps the most important. If you can use your data to drive action, improve behaviour, enhance culture, breakdown silos, and increase sales you will be able gain competitive edge and leap frog your competition by innovating with information.