The Truth About Big Data

Posted on Sep 9 2015 - 7:01am by John Terra

Big Data

When a concept comes along that takes the world by storm, there is always the risk of things getting blown out of proportion. It’s easy to take the latest and greatest new technologies and innovations and declare them to be the end all, be all of our existence.

And the more traction the subject in question gets, the bigger the stories and misconceptions grow, until an entire mythology builds around it. That’s when things get silly and out of hand, and the world needs someone to come along and pop the balloon, restoring perspective.

Well, here’s the needle. Let’s start popping.

Our target today is Big Data. Yes, Big Data is amazing, but the concept is rife with exaggerations and misconceptions that need clearing up.

The Quick Definition

Big Data is defined by the three big V’s: Velocity, Variety, and Volume. In other words, Big Data is a massive amount of information from a dazzling array of sources, delivered at rapid speeds. By reminding ourselves of its definition, we lay down a good groundwork for myth busting, because, for instance …

Myth: Big Data Is, Well, BIG!

OK, fine, it’s big. But, big how? Are we talking about gigantic books or printouts, threatening to crush us all? In this case, “big” refers to the sheer number of sources the information comes from. In fact, a lot of Big Data is actually made up of very small bits of data, only there’s a colossal amount of it. It’s not a flood from a burst dam, it’s a rain storm.

Myth: Use Your Big Data Immediately, Or Else!

Big Data needs to be applied carefully, with due consideration. Furthermore, rather than just stuffing the whole banquet of information in your face, you need to pick and choose and start small, taking a little from this dish, and a little more from this other dish.

Myth: You’re Falling Behind If You’re Not Employing It.

The article “Debunked! 6 Myths About Big Data You Need to Know the Truth About” tells us that, although Big Data is being factored into the long-term plans of at least 80% of the companies out there, only 13% of them have in fact started.

If you own a business, then of course you should make Big Data a part of your future! But it’s not like you’re the only kid on the block who doesn’t have the new toy. While you certainly don’t want to procrastinate, it’s certainly not too late to jump on the bandwagon. You’re not being left in the dust … yet.

Myth: All Big Data Is Awesome

No. No it’s not. Not by a long shot. In fact, a notable fraction of it is garbage. Human fallibility is a big part of the problem. There is no way you can have such a massive torrent of data without some of it being inaccurate, mislabeled, or vague. That’s why the data must be sifted through, analyzed, and applied with careful thought.

Myth: Big Data Is Expensive

That’s not just a myth, it’s a toxic mindset that has no basis in reality. Big Data is not pricey; it’s easily accessible by large and small companies alike. There’s enough of a competitive market out there that you can find a contractor that’s reasonably priced, while open-source analytics tools and inexpensive cloud service providers add to the savings. Don’t let money concerns be the thing that shoots down your Big Data aspirations; it’s simply not a consideration.

Myth: Big Data Is Just A Fad; It Will Go Away Eventually

Oh no, it won’t. In fact, Big Data has existed in one form or another for decades now. It’s just that today’s Information Age has redefined Big Data and increased its profile and visibility immensely. After all, if you want an idea, meme, or concept to be disseminated throughout the world, mentioned and repeated so damned often that you start getting sick of it, then you put it out on the Internet and sit back.

But don’t let the Internet-spawned over-hyping of Big Data blind you to this reality: Big Data is here to stay. In fact, the amount of information out there is increasing massively, and that’s not even counting the sheer volume of information that’s on the way as a result of the growing presence of the Internet of Things!

So there you have it; a half-dozen myths busted. Take some time and consider how Big Data can benefit your business, and put together a plan. That’s what any forward-thinking company is doing today.

About the Author

John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He's still in denial about being in his late 50's, but the free donuts for AARP members help mitigate this somewhat.