Big Data isn't just another buzzword; it's an ever-evolving technological trend that's being embraced by some of the world's largest companies, governments and organizations.
Defining Big Data
The term “Big Data” refers to data sets – structured and unstructured – that are too large for traditional computer applications and algorithms to effectively process. With the advent of cheap and readily available information-sensing devices, data is being created and harvest at rapid pace. In fact, IBM suggests that the world's capacity to store data has doubled every 40 months since the 1980s. IBM also says that 2.5 exabytes of data has been created every day since 2012.
While some organizations may have their own specifications regarding what's classified as Big Data and what's not, it is typically characterized by the following 5 V's: volume, variety, velocity, variability and veracity.
A 2011 McKinsey Global Institute report further elaborates on the definition of Big Data, describing it as having the following characteristics:
Methods for analyzing data, including but not limited to A/B split testing, machine learning and natural language processing.
Technologies such as business intelligence, cloud computing and databases.
Visualization of data such as charts and graphs.
India's Big Data Analytics to Reach $16 billion by 2025
Big Data is living up to its “Big” namesake, as new reports suggest the industry's analytical sector in India will reach a jaw-dropping $16 billion by 2025. When speaking to reporters, K.S. Viswanathan, Vice President, Nasscom, cited the growing demand for cloud-based and predictive analytics platforms in retail, telecommunications and healthcare as being a primary driver for India's Big Data analytics market.
“The sector has huge growth potential and by 2025, India will have 32 percent share in the global market," said K.S. Viswanathan. “The analytical firms are positioning India as an emerging hub for analytics solutions across the globe. The big data and analytics industry is witnessing a rapid growth driven by increased demand for cloud based and predictive analytics solutions by industries such as BFSI, retail, telecom and healthcare”
Big Data in Healthcare
Of course, Big Data is also being used in healthcare. As explained in this article published by FirstPost, both Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are being used to improve healthcare services through the remote and continuous monitoring of patients. Medical devices monitor patients' vital signs, collecting and sending this data to cloud-based servers where it's then examined.
Such data proves invaluable in assisting doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in providing the best quality service to their patients. And when patients receive quality healthcare service in a timely manner, it reduces the risk of complications.
Another way in which Big Data is being used in the healthcare industry involves harvesting information about patients and their respective conditions. By collecting and curating data about patients' conditions, doctors can provide better, more effective treatments and services. However, this opens the doors to privacy issues pertaining to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, which requires covered entities to implement certain safeguards to protect patients' personal health information from unauthorized use and access.
Big Data in Manufacturing
You might be surprised to learn that manufacturing companies are also using Big Data to improve their operations. According to a 2013 Global Trend Study, the greatest benefits of Big Data in manufacturing involve supply planning and product quality. Manufacturing companies can use Big Data to predict when new materials are needed to reduce unnecessary downtime.
Big Data in Online Retailers
Websites like eBay and Amazon harvest tons of data, making them key figures in the Big Data market. eBay, for instance, is believed to use separate data centers at which 7.5 petabytes of data is stored, in addition to 40PB Hadoop cluster.
Amazon is also known to harvest a boat load of data. The e-retailing giant processes millions of operations per day, including user search queries, customer questions, orders and more. As of 2005, Amazon runs the world's three largest Linux databases, with capacities of 7.8 TB, 18.5 TB and 24.7 TB. As Internet usage and online spending increases, it's safe to assume these numbers will also increase.
Big Data Astronomy
With hundreds of billions of planets in the Milky Way galaxy, astronomers need advanced Big Data analytical solutions to properly map all of these celestial objects. Back in 2000, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) launched a new initiative to collect astronomical data. After being operational for just a few weeks, it had already collected more data than in the history of astronomy. Not long after, SDSS was collecting roughly 200 GB of data per night, reaching a total of 140 terabytes.
What's even more shocking, however, is that SDSS believes it will trump these numbers with the release of its new Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. This behemoth telescope is expected to acquire 140 terabytes of data every five days.
Prescriptive Analytics Built into Business Analytics Software
According to the International Data Corporation – a leading market research company that specializes in Big Data – prescriptive analytics will soon become a staple component of business analytics software. More specifically, IDC says that half of all business analytics software will feature intelligence where it's needed by the end of 2020. Often referred to as the “final frontier of analytical capabilities,” prescriptive analytics synthesizes Big Data to make predictions and forecasts based on the given information. It's used extensively in the oil and gas market, with energy companies using the technology to set prices and improve their operations.
The Future of Big Data
Even with these predictions, however, it's impossible to tell what exactly is in store for the future of Big Data. The one thing that's for certain is that data volumes will continue to grow in the months and years to come.
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