Why Is Big Data a Big Deal?

Why Is Big Data a Big Deal?

Today’s global data output is in a league of its own. With more data created in the past two years than in the entire history of the human race, our mass of information now exceeds the capacity and processing capabilities of traditional technology.[1]

It’s called Big Data. It’s powerful. It’s growing. And it’s everywhere.

Where Does Data Come From?

Virtually everything that we do in the world today leaves a digital footprint. Every smart phone, parking meter, or traffic signal is part of a connected network of devices, sending and receiving information through the Internet—populating the world with Big Data.

This may not be a new idea, but it’s certainly an increasingly prevalent one. Think about your home’s wireless router ten years ago – it was probably connected to your laptop, your printer, maybe your TiVo. Now think about it today. My router, for example, is now connected to all of the above, plus my security system, my kids’ iPads, speakers, thermostat, and the list goes on. The number of connected devices in my own home alone has doubled over the past decade, along with the data that they generate.

Now envision this growth on a global scale. There is enterprise data, public data, sensor data, transaction data, and let’s not forget, Social Media.[2] The proliferation of these data-generating platforms is directly correlated to the massive accumulation of Big Data in recent years.

Data Generating Platforms

Social Media Data

To put that into perspective, three years ago the Internet contained approximately 5 billion gigabytes of data. By 2020 it is expected to hold 80 times this amount, translating to 40 zettabytes of data—a measure of storage capacity that hadn’t even been coined until the beginning of this decade.[3]

How Is It Used?

The concern for businesses around the world is what to do with this sudden influx of content. Apart from having the architectural capacity for Big Data, storage systems must be able to scale quickly, minimize latency, and ensure security. Cloud computing and data centers are growing solutions to the challenge of Big Data storage, enabling both small and large businesses to collect and manage valuable information.

Not only is data storage a critical issue, but let’s not forget the importance of actually analyzing the data to make actionable, smarter decisions. Since traditional business analytics tools and processes aren’t designed to effectively manage and interpret today’s massive data sets, Big Data analytics represents a major opportunity for IT. Today’s enterprises need cost-effective, integrated solutions that are capable of handling information on an extreme scale. Without the ability to analyze Big Data, companies miss out on valuable knowledge and risk becoming irrelevant in today’s fast-paced consumer market.

Big Data Analytics at Work

Businesses around the world are making data analytics a priority to identify patterns that help improve operational efficiency, drive profits, and gain a competitive advantage.

  • Netflix uses a data processing platform that analyzes traffic patterns across device and region to improve streaming quality and expansion. The same technology is also used for their recommendation engine, which draws from customer viewing habits and preferences to make new suggestions.[4]
  • Delta airlines has set itself apart from its competitors by using their logistics data to create an app that allows customers to track their bags from a mobile device. This has allowed them to diminish the common problem of lost baggage while increasing customer satisfaction.[5]
  • UPS works with Big Data to maximize the efficiency of their fleet optimization, saving over 39 million gallons of fuel and 364 million in mileage based on route data and engine idle time.[6]

For companies using Big Data, 92% of executives are satisfied with results, and 89% of respondents see it as a way to revolutionize business operations.[7] For a typical Fortune 1000 company, a 10% increase in data accessibility will result in over $65 million of additional net income.[8] It’s no surprise then that many of today’s CMOs allocate most of their tech spending to Big Data. But where does all of this data go? Learn more about the rise of Cloud solutions in Part 2 of our Data Center Series.

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