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Facts, numbers and examples

What is Big Data?

Jim Vogt
80% of the data we create every day is unstructured. Big data illustration via Shutterstock

It’s data, it’s big and it’s one of the hottest topics in IT. But what else do you need to know about big data?

The idea of Big Data has been gaining momentum for years now, and even as we write this, the industry continues to talk about Big Data’s steady trajectory.

The concept itself has successfully moved past being a mere buzzword and into concrete reality with organizations deploying technology specifically created to harness massive volumes of data to leverage the valuable information hidden therein.

But what is Big Data? Beginning with the Internet’s rise more than 20 years ago, the recent emergence of the Internet of Things, and the colossal increase in the numbers of sensors and devices that gather data, that there is a lot more “information” being collected on a daily basis than ever before. The simplest way to describe this amassed data? It’s big. And now organizations in almost every industry vertical are discovering powerful ways to use it.

2.5 quintillion bytes every day

To give you an idea of how much data we are talking about, every day we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data – so much that 90 percent of the data that exists in the world today has been created in the last two years. However, 80 percent of this data is “unstructured” meaning it must be formatted in order to be useful for analytical purposes, which means that was often left unused. But that is changing.

SEE ALSO: Five ways companies are losing money on big data

Utilizing this data effectively to derive actionable information is a relatively new pursuit, and it’s important to note that this process is still being perfected. Many enterprises are actively pursing the Big Data dream of optimizing of extracting value from the data that they collect on a daily basis. New technologies, such as Hadoop as well as various analytical engines, are enabling organizations to make significant progress with data mining and analysis.

Examples of specific industries leveraging big data

Healthcare – Using reliable Electronic Health Records (EHR) information, providers can predict outbreaks and incidence of disease on a geographical scale; payers can perform reimbursement claims fraud identification via pattern analysis.

BioSciences – Perform next generation genome sequencing and clinical trials using troves of observational patient healthcare data.

Oil and gas – Structure massive amounts of seismic data, then rapidly process and analyze, and display results in real time

Financial services – Gain a better understanding of individual customer circumstances and financial needs, and generate customized service offerings; manage loan risk to improve operational efficiency

Humans are breaking records every day by accumulating more and more data. The remarkable thing is that now we can actually useful with it.

While there is the ongoing conversation into what Big Data is becoming, the changes we have already seen from accelerating scientific research to helping the banking industry (and other retailers) to better understand customers, demonstrates that Big Data is indeed a revolutionary phenomenon.

To learn more about Big Data use cases, check out Zettaset overview of Big Data management use cases.

Author
Jim Vogt
Jim Vogt is CEO & President of the big data security specialist, Zettaset. Jim previously served as senior vice president and general manager of the Cloud Services business unit at Blue Coat Systems. Prior to Blue Coat, he served as president and CEO at Trapeze Networks.

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