Data Defined: What Is 'Big Data' Anyway? | DataWorks – Advertising Age

DataWorks defines data-related terms marketers need to know. Starting with the definition of Big Data for marketers.

What is Big Data?

Big Data refers to relatively large amounts of structured and unstructured data that require machine-based systems and technologies in order to be fully analyzed. The much-hyped term has inspired a slew of definitions, many of which involve the concepts of massive volume, velocity and variety of information. In other words, what turn data into Big Data is the amount of information, and the speed at which it can be created, collected and analyzed.

Another very important factor in distinguishing Big Data is storage. For many entities — be they huge industrial tech firms or boutique retailers — the ability to store large amounts of data in the cloud as opposed to storing data in physical servers that require space and maintenance is key to the emergence of Big Data as business reality. Also important to the emergence of Big Data as a real concept for businesses are recently-developed software systems such as Hadoop which allow companies to gather insights from the data onslaught.

The kinds of data and metrics employed to learn from it vary wildly depending on the type of entity collecting and using them. For marketers, Big Data can encompass website log files, consumer-uploaded images, retail transactions, loyalty card information, email communications, mobile location information, and social media commentary about brands.

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