Defining Big Data

The Big Data Era

From the rise of social media, to integrated sensors, to online business transactions, the rate of data creation is increasing exponentially. Not only does it come in greater volumes, but data is now available in a variety of unstructured formats accessible in real time. This new data phenomenon, sometimes defined as Big Data, may provide valuable insights for organizations willing to capitalize on it. With an effective strategy and proper execution, Big Data can be applied to areas such as: data driven decision making, increasing innovation, cost reduction, and the development of new business models. According to articles from Harvard Business Review, and McKinsey & Company, experts predict that Big Data will be one of the most significant sources of competitive advantage for organizations in the near future.

What is Big Data?

The excitement around this new trend has lead to mass overuse of the term ‘Big Data’ in books, magazines, company websites, and blog posts, diluting its meaning and making the concept difficult to fully comprehend. This could potentially lead to organizations becoming unable to leverage it effectively. Even experts in the field offer a variety of different definitions, including:

“…[a] collection of such a huge amount of data that it becomes impossible to manage and process data using conventional database management tools”

“…the acquisition, analysis and deployment of massive amounts of data to inform operational and strategic decisions”

“….a capacity to search, aggregate, and cross-reference large data sets”

The ‘V’ Model

One common method for defining Big Data is the ‘3 V’s’ model which defines it in three dimensions; Volume, Velocity and Variety. Though the ‘3V’ model seems to be the most prevalent, some have expanded it to include a fourth ‘V’, value, and a fifth ‘V’ for veracity. Still, even under the ‘5V’ model there are no explicit criteria for what data is considered Big Data. Even with these definitions organizations are subjectively choosing the definition that fits their own operations and strategies, indicating that the model is not universally applicable.

Our Thoughts

We have tried to convey some of the themes and issues on the topic of Big Data, including the difficulty in defining such a complex phenomenon. Furthermore, this could also explain why some see Big Data as nothing more then latest buzzword in tech-lingo. We feel that Big Data is more than just a fad, there is something substantial and transformative in this trend. The lasting effects of Big Data are yet to be seen, and we are confident that it will have an a effect on every industry.

Get Involved

As we work to complete our master thesis, we plan to explore the concept of Big Data and  possible applications to Innovation, and share what we learn in future posts. If you are interested in taking part in our study, as either an expert in Innovation or Big Data, or interested in learning more about our findings please let us know.


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