Information and Knowledge Management: Big Data
The term “big data” refers to data that is too large or complex-or is changing too rapidly-to process using traditional methods. Instead, organisations use more advanced computational methods to reveal patterns, trends, and associations – particularly in terms of how people interact with each other and with their surroundings. These insights enable organisations to improve strategies and make better decisions. Big data is characterised by the “5 Vs”: volume, velocity, variety, veracity, and value.
  • Volume refers to the massive amounts of data.
  • Velocity refers to the high speed at which data is accumulated.
  • Variety refers to the nature of data which may be structured, semi-structured or unstructured.
  • Veracity refers to the inconsistencies and uncertainty in the data, as well as to disparate data types and sources.
  • Value refers to the importance of being able to convert all of this data into something useful.

In This Report

  1. What is “big data”?
  2. Which organisations have been recognised for excellence in big data?
  3. How have organisations reached high levels of excellence in big data?
  4. What research has been undertaken into big data?
  5. What tools and methods are used to achieve high levels of success using big data?
  6. How can the use of big data be measured?
  7. What do business leaders say about big data?
  8. Conclusion

The Stage

The quantity of data to which we have access is growing at an unprecedented rate; indeed, we can now capture it from sources as disparate as purchase transactions, surveys, phone calls, traffic and building sensors, Internet searches, clothes, field observations, experiments, and interviews. IDC, a global market intelligence firm, forecasts the global “datasphere” to grow to 163 zettabytes (one trillion gigabytes) by 2025. That is five times as much data as was available in January 2020.

Large volumes of data inundate businesses every single day; however, it is what organisations do with this data that counts. According to Clive Humby, a renowned mathematician from the United Kingdom, data is the new oil. “It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used… data must be broken down, analysed for it to have value.”

Organisations are already exploiting the massive potential of data analysis to increase their market share and drive innovation. They are harnessing the power of big data in one or more of these five ways: to create transparency across their organisation; to promote data-driven discoveries, trends and patterns; to improve segmentation and customisation; to drive automation and automated decisions; and, to foster innovation and develop new products. Of course, opportunities and challenges will vary according to the industry sector, with governments and companies operating in the information sectors, finance, and insurance among those poised to make gains from big data.

There is a significant global talent shortage in the area of big data. Many institutions and universities have jumped on the bandwagon and are offering data science-related courses to fill this human resources gap. The downside of this is that traditional jobs may become obsolete over the next ten years, at least in part due to the development of big data.

Some of the biggest challenges at the moment include the development of policies relating to privacy, security, and intellectual property; there are also cost considerations linked to liability for breaches. Not every organisation is prepared for big data; however, investing in a robust data ecosystem that is capable of big data solutions will be essential to staying ahead of the competition and achieving better business outcomes.

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