Our every day life has changed forever, thanks for the ubiquitous smart phones and technology dependent information age. We leave a trail of data while travelling, shopping, driveing, bloggin, and even voting. All of these activities leave a digital signature unique to us, which if analyzed can predict our next move. Similarly, a large set of data is being created each day by businesses, researchers and the World Wide Web. According to an estimate by the government, there are about 1.2 zettabytes (250 billion DVDs) of electronic data generated each year by everything from underground physics experiments and telescopes to retail transactions and Twitter posts (Mervis 22). This data growth has created a new challenge and opportunity. The challenge is that, we don’t have sufficiently trained people to analyze Big Data. The opportunity is that if you have the right resources who can transform Big Data to a meaningful use, you guarantee the success of your business.
What is Big Data? Big data is a large stream of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data that has unique characteristics. These characteristics are collectively called the 5V’s (Keith 13). The first V stands for volume in reference to the large set of data generated. The second V is for velocity signifying the speed at which new data is generated. The third V is for a variety, which signifies that data can come in any form and from various sources. The fourth V is the veracity is in reference to the uncertainty of the data. The last V is for a value of the data. The data has a perceived value for the organization using it.
Big data analytics is the process of extracting meaningful data out of a Big Data so that predictions can be made, or events can be correlated. The predictions can be based on past information or a particular pattern established for the type of data. The type of inquiry varies by the type of the field of study and each field has its own approaches. A person who is in charge of the data inquiry is called a data scientist. The discipline of studying about data is called a data science. In the study published by Harvard business review, data scientist is labeled as “The Sexiest Job Of the 21st Century (Davenport 70).” It is a new field of study where analyzing a large set of data has become a key to the success of a business.
Data science is applicable in almost every discipline where a large set of data is generated and consumed. In pure science, specifically astronomy and physics, Big Data analytics has long been used for finding undiscovered planet or unknown atomic particle in the accelerator labs. Other areas like Biology and Chemistry are still developing techniques for the Big Data Analytics. In the study the Big Challenges of Big Data Vivien Marx wrote, “Biologists are joining the big-data club. With the advent of high-throughput genomics, life scientists are starting to grapple with massive data sets, encountering challenges with handling,...