Recently, the word Big Data has been thrown a lot within our daily lives, but have you ever wondered, what does Big Data actually mean? Big Data is a term that refers to the use of predictive analytics, user behaviour analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data. As the name suggests, Big Data is still data, but what sets the two apart? What sets Big Data apart from regular old data are the 3 Vs; Volume, Variety, and Velocity.[i] Volume, the sheer amount of data, Variety, the different types of structured or unstructured data, and Velocity, how quickly the data needs to be analysed. Big Data is used to describe the process of extracting or analysing data that are in large amounts of quantity which cannot be processed with traditional data processing software or hardware, due to the sheer amount and variety of data that is being processed.[ii] In a sense, Big Data can be defined as a way or means to make data more valuable than it already is.
What can be considered as Big Data? Basically any data that you generate as you use your technology can be considered as a part of Big Data. The data of your search history, online shopping history, YouTube history, Netflix history, Maps history, and many more, is only considered as data. But the same data that is then multiplied by millions of active users globally, is then considered as Big Data.
What is Big Data used for? One common application of Big Data is that companies use the data that you generate and analyse them as a means to better understand you as a customer.[iii] By having a better understanding of you they can know your preferences and target better ads for you so in the end you would purchase their products. Think of it as a digital copy of yourself, that anyone who has access to can see and use it however they want. Companies with your data could create services that would cater to your specific needs and therefore making life easier for you. YouTube is able to create recommendations based on your view history, the same as Netflix and Spotify and many other media streaming services. Making it as if their services are personalized towards your needs.
The main concerns when it comes to Big Data is how vulnerable our personal data is and how easy we are willing to give it to companies and service providers, making us into an open digital book for anyone to see. Simply put, privacy breach is the main concern when it comes to Big Data.[iv] While this article aims to educate its readers about what Big Data is, this article would also like to emphasis on how we must be careful in terms of giving out our personal data. Users must be wary of the terms and conditions of the online services that they use. If and when a user must give out its data, make sure it is something that is necessary for them to give out their data, such as maybe applying for online services that can actually help their lives, for example online banking or healthcare apps, rather than dodgy online quizzes that are basically traps to gather your personal information.
[i] Kaminskiy, D. (2019). What’s the difference between ‘Big Data’ and ‘Data’?. [online] Digital Leaders. Available at: https://digileaders.com/whats-difference-big-data-data/ [Accessed 27 Dec. 2019].
[ii] Van Loon, R. (2017). What is Big Data And How Does It Work?. [online] Datasciencecentral.com. Available at: https://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/what-is-big-data-and-how-does-it-work [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].
[iii] Schloss, J. (2018). Three Major Benefits of Big Data. [online] Datameer. Available at: https://www.datameer.com/blog/three-major-benefits-big-data/ [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].
[iv] Bocetta, S. (2019). Should Consumers Fear the Big Data Privacy Threat?. [online] Datafloq.com. Available at: https://datafloq.com/read/should-consumers-fear-the-big-data-privacy-threat/4147 [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].