Friday, May 25, 2012

The Bigness of Big Data.

If everybody is talking about Big Data it must be something very cool, don’t you think? Every day the term is mentioned in newspapers, websites, schools, business meetings, conferences… Currently, Big Data is all over, and that is exactly why we are writing about it.
EMC^2’s video which we featured last week helped us a lot in understanding what Big Data is all about, now let us present our interpretation of this in-vogue tech concept.
Massive amounts of data which cannot be handled with conventional tools are Big Data (BD). Imagine analysing all tweets posted in one country in a day, using conventional data base tools, tricky, right? There is so much information available in our world that it is becoming very problematic to use it. Big data applications allow people or companies to solve problems, converting unprocessed data to useful information.
Two of the big players in this market, IBM and EMC^2 identify three main dimensions of Big Data:
·      Size: Big data is certainly big. Data is available in enormous quantities.
·      Speed: Data is generated extremely fast. To be competitive, users need to process and to analyse the data very fast.
·      Variety: Data come in many forms and from many different sources. (Dates, Names, Bank Accounts, Bar Codes, Videos, emails, Tweets, Web Sites, etc.)
Big Data is useful in a wide range of contexts, some of our favourite applications: Electronic Payment for private or public companies. Agile analytics in the Stock Market. Business Intelligence for new ventures. Security: predicting or detecting fraud, And Data Warehouse in Social Networks.
Big Data is a tool which creates competitive advantages in business. Getting updated information from many more sources, and processing data faster will enable companies to understand their markets better, to anticipate crisis, and to make intelligent decisions. Those extracting value of the existing and growing data will be ahead of the competition. That is for us, the “bigness”, of Big Data.

As always, more on this topic in the coming days…

The image used in this post is a piece named Electress by Nick Gentry. He is British artist who recycles tech products like floppy disks to create his paintings.


  1. Beatriz, good article. Our ability of understand the amount of information available depends on having the right tool which support us to select what is useful in each ocasion.

  2. Interesting... but not only how we do it, or how fast we can process information; but to what end!
    The right tool in the right hands will secure our progress as a society!

  3. Nice topic! I would like to know in terms of figures how much difference between "small" data and big data

    1. Aldo: the size of Big Data is a very polemic topic. For us, the size of BD depends on your capacity to manage the data. The problem is big if you are not capable to handle the data with conventional tools.

      Michael E Driscoll, CEO at Metamarkets, developed a handy table to describe the differences between small, medium, and Big data. For him data greater than 1TB is big.

      I refer you to two interesting videos of Big Data experts talking about the size of big data:
      The first was posted in our blog on May 14

      The second is an interview of Roger Magoulas (Director of Research at O’Reilly)


  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Unknown and Jose Rafael: we have consensus here! There is not Big Data without speed, availability, accessibility and relevance. Big Data isn’t big if doesn’t change a specific situation, that is: solving a question or problem. Developers of BD applications have big challenges; one is related to the diversity of contexts & problems, which demand tailor-made solutions.

    In addition, information brings power, therefore new responsibilities. Please check this MIT article about the big responsibilities of Big Data:

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.