“What of the following best describes big data?” That’s a rhetorical question, but the answer isn’t quite what you might think. You see, there is a lot to understand about the way data has changed and how it can be used. In fact, it’s not even easy to describe the changes and the potential applications.
So let’s start with the definition of big data. It comes from the combination of two words. Data is mass, in other words. Big data is the sum of all data that represents a certain quantity or range. So a computer might be able to represent the world in its entirety, but the speed at which it does so is going to be determined by the characteristics of the hardware and the internet connections used throughout that area.
So now we come to another important question. “What of the following best explains big data?” The first answer relates to understanding how computers work. We know that they can process massive amounts of information, that they can do so in an efficient manner and that they can make the most of the speed at which they can do so.
So if computers are capable of processing huge amounts of data, how do they do it? They divide up the information into smaller pieces. Each piece is then stored on a different computer system so that each piece gets turned around several times before it makes it onto the screen. If you have ever seen the blooming of the Beanie Babies, that’s how computers store data.
So which of the following best describes big data? Computers divide things up into “blocks”, or “totals”. These blocks can then be broken further down into smaller pieces. This is why information which has been processed numerous times is still almost unalterable, but you may have difficulty finding the specific piece of data which is required next. Even if you could, it would not be easy to find.
How about pictures? Pictures are obviously very large, and they can take up a lot of space. However, there is software that can compress images to small file sizes. It’s possible to reduce the amount of bandwidth used and to reduce storage space.
Let’s look at computer programs. One of the primary reasons that computer programs become slow is because they are being run constantly. In order to conserve power, they are switched off when they aren’t in use. The same is true of big data. When these types of data are run, they consume a great deal of power.
So, the question which of the following best describes big data? Well, it can describe the current state of the art and allow computer programs to perform their tasks much more efficiently. It can also describe problems which currently exist in certain applications, but which are not yet ready for prime time. It can even describe which of the two primary directions researchers should be pursuing: that of hardware improvement or software improvement.
Software improvement would describe improvements in the capabilities of a program. The current generation of mobile application development for example, has made big data an essential part of software development. This is because the increasing amount of data which needs to be stored and which needs to be retrieved is creating significant challenges for mobile program developers. In order to solve these problems, new capabilities for mobile app development have been developed.
The next question, which of the following best describes big data is “What does big data tell me about my business?” Big data is about efficiency and it is about reducing costs. As this volume of data continues to grow, managers will need to make decisions about which of the following is most important to them: improving customer relations which will help to increase sales; making operational improvements which will help to improve the productivity of employees; or simply maintaining and updating information which will help to make the organization more efficient. In each of these cases, there will likely be a combination of techniques used to achieve the desired results. Depending on what is happening within an organization, different approaches may be appropriate.
In a series of insightful articles, Steve Sawyer illustrated what he meant by “big data” and its implications for organizations. He concluded that there are three key dimensions to consider when using big data to improve or make decisions: the technical data about how the product or service performs, the behavioral data about how people use the product and the business impact that it has had on the organizational structure. It is also important to consider the social impact created by the application, both short term and long term. Finally, there is the opportunity cost which, as discussed by Sawyer, should be considered when trying to make a decision about implementing a certain program or strategy. This dimension of big data takes into account all the aspects of the organization and not just one.
There is much still to learn about big data and its implications on business and in particular how it can be used to drive business improvements. Many professionals believe that it is just getting started and that the concept of big data will spread across many different sectors very soon. However, this remains to be seen and even those who are convinced about the power of big data face the difficulty of actually putting it to work. Which of the following best describes big data?