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The Big Data Buzz… But What is it Exactly?

  • By Allie Philpin 
  • Category: Blog 
  • Comments (1) 

The phrase of the moment… Big Data… the answer for better strategies, workflows, analytics, information and data management, competitive advantage, the list goes on.  In basic terms, Big Data is the exponential growth of structured and unstructured information generated by businesses today, and the advent of the Internet and social media has significantly helped in propelling Big Data to the forefront of the minds of our enterprise organisations.

And it isn’t just the multi-national, corporate, mainstream businesses that have to deal with the staggering amount of Big Data generated; as society grabs onto and utilises the numerous social networking platforms, websites, intranets and other online platforms, so the generation of data continues to grow substantially for small- to medium-sized businesses, too.

Let’s give you some examples of Big Data:

•    5,700 tweets are sent per second; that’s 500 million tweets a day1.
•    There are more than 1.15 billion active Facebook users, all of whom are generating social data2.
•    More than 5 billion people use mobile phones to call, text, tweet and browse websites3.
•    VISA processes over 172,800,000 card transactions a day4.

Big Data InfographicWith this amount of data being generated on a daily basis, organisations are struggling to capture, store, analyse and use this data to their advantage.  Gartner believes there are three key challenges to handling the masses of incoming data, the three V’s of the Big Data conundrum: Velocity, Variety and Volume.

•    Velocity – being able to react quickly enough to the enormous amount of data coming into the organisation, and that’s where technology such as smart metering, sensors and RFID tags are developing to deal with this data in real time.
•    Variety – handling the very different types and formats of data: structured, unstructured, numeric, text, email, video, audio… managing, collating and merging these different types of data is still one of the biggest issues an organisation faces.
•    Volume – the storage aspect of receiving so much data isn’t the only problem; deciding which data is relevant and which isn’t, as well as how best to analyse and utilise the data, is becoming a major issue.

Whilst the handling of Big Data is a big challenge for any organisation, whatever its size, it’s not necessarily the amount of large data received that’s important, but how you filter what is relevant data to your business and what isn’t, and the way you use it to your advantage.


1. Source: Complex Tech (
2. Source: DMR Digital Marketing Ramblings (
3. Source: ITU International (
4. Source: Bitcoin (

1 Comment

  • avatar image
    Reply Doug Laney, 3 September 2013

    Gartner’s 3Vs of bigdata are 12+ years old. For the courtesy of a proper citation, here’s the piece I wrote back then first positing them: The origin of the “3Vs” has been well documented in the “Big Data” Wikipedia entry several years ago. –Doug Laney, VP Research, Gartner, @doug_laney

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