Trends in Technology: Big Data

You may have recently been hearing about the words “Big Data” if you’ve been following news in the technology industry. It is a relatively new trend that is just beginning to make an impact and affects more industries than just IT. It can be seen being used almost everywhere from healthcare to financial services to telecommunications and even transportation.

So what exactly is big data? Lets start off with a few facts:

  • Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (2.5 x 10^18) (IBM)
  • 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years (IBM)

  • That’s a lot of data! The concept of big data emerges from this trend. However, it is important to realize that big data doesn’t only encompass the large amounts of data that firms have today, but also how this data is analyzed and interpreted. That is the heart of big data: what do you do with such massive amounts of data, how do you analyze it (what tools do you use), what do you analyze (what is relevant vs. what isn’t), and how can it help you find relevant trends in your industry. Through the business courses you’ve taken, you probably know that this kind of analysis can be very valuable to firms.

    These data that are being analyzed can be pretty much anything. One might want to analyze the thousands of comments that people post on articles that relate to the latest iPhone 5 news, what is going on in the financial markets, which hot new phones are coming out soon, what are people saying about the presidential candidates, etc. Using these data, analysts can better understand what people think about certain products, where certain trends are going and which ones are starting. Moreover, big data tools are very powerful. Think about how you quantify an opinion or a comment on a certain webpage or article (one person may like a certain feature, another person may not like it, yet another can point out multiple pros and cons but not actually state a definite opinion); now think about how you can turn thousands of such comments/opinions into meaningful data that explains what people in general are thinking. Before, one could analyze trends in what people are buying from online stores or your local grocery shops, now you can analyze behaviors of entire populations on a large scale.

    Other than the implications big data has for companies and the way they analyze and handle the influx of large amounts of data, what does it mean for you as a business major or a CIS major? One thing for sure is that the growth of data isn’t going to stop anytime soon, and you could likely bet that in the future there will be a lot of work to be done in terms of actual data analysis and the development of tools and software that can interpret a wide variety of data. If you’re a business major, you will most likely be using data analysis tools to interpret your company’s data; if you’re a CIS major, you might be involved in the development of such tools. In either case, big data is here to stay and will affect a lot of areas of business. With that said, it might even be the next hot area to be in in terms of jobs.

    If you found this post to be interesting and want to learn more about big data, check out some of the links below in the sources section!