Big Data seems to be the next techie expression following hot on the heels of “cloud computing”, but what is it and is it relevant to every business?

We have always generated data on ourselves. This applies from shopping on Amazon, to providing HMRC with our personal details for filling in tax returns. Like footprints in the snow, we have always left a trail of data behind us, through our personal actions. From paper trails from form filling, to posting tweets on Twitter, the growth of technology and the Internet has seen a rise in Big Data gathered.

Big Data is a term widely used to describe datasets large in size, scale and complexity. These make them difficult to process, analyse, store, search and capture. These challenges are compounded by the fact, that these datasets grow consistently due to the sheer volumes of data gathered through multiple technology channels e.g. Internet searches, smart phones, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags and camera devices.

So with Big Data, 70% of it has been created by individuals. Therefore we have always given up our data through human behaviour, and not through CPU power. In addition, the use of big data can make companies more productive through better decision making through accuracy of data analytics and improved marketing.

Big Data also has its disadvantages. For example, 247 billion e-mails are sent each day, and 80% received is spam. It can also be invasive, as privacy and confidentiality is being eroded, which affects people, corporations, and governments will have greater difficulties concealing their secrets. Therefore the digital trails of the Big Data we generate consistently, will allow profiles to be created of ourselves using the data generated that we provide.