Big Data: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?


When McKinsey & Company, the well-known global management consulting firm, calls Big Data the “next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity” you had better pay attention. All trends point to a Big Data revolution: data science is becoming democratized and machine learning is showing up everywhere. Additionally, Big Data is one of Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013. But what is Big Data and how can you harness it’s power? How is it going to change the way you do business or affect consumers? These are questions that have answers; Big Data doesn’t have to be a mystery to you any longer. This week DailyTekk is focusing on unlocking the secrets of Big Data with the help of a few knowledgeable experts. Today I’ve asked them to explain what Big Data is and why it matters.

View last week’s Understanding topic: Instagram Marketing

From the Humanizing Big Data infographic (click to view).

From the Alteryx infographic Humanizing Big Data (click to view).

What Is Big Data and Why Does It Matter?

According to Margaret Dawson, “Big Data describes data sets that are too large or too difficult to store, manage and analyze using traditional database software and analytical tools, and therefore require a new approach using distributed models and parallel processes. Big Data doesn’t necessarily have to involve huge amounts of data, as it’s more about the information you need to garner from the data and how hard it is to process it and gain intelligence from it, rather than the pure size. While data mining and business intelligence are not new, Big Data takes these to a new level, dealing with all data, structured and unstructured, across multiple sources and applications in a dynamic, and near real time fashion. And perhaps most importantly, Big Data uses data as a new source of competitive opportunity and success.”

“While most companies discuss and define big data in the context of the 3 V’s (volume, velocity and variety), another way to think about big data is the fact that most of it is a) unknown and b) unmanageable to IT organizations. The relevance of big data is significant because hidden among the daily terabytes that a single organization can generate are insights that can lead to better customer service, improved revenues, and deeper market understanding,” says Sanjay Sarathy.

SAP’s David Jonker: “First and foremost Big Data is an emerging trend where companies are harnessing their data in order to drive business value. So Big Data is also an opportunity: companies are seeing the value in tracking new business signals that were not possible before. Big Data can be an IT challenge: many companies are using traditional relational databases designed for a different era. To truly harness the opportunity enterprises need to rethink how they manage data: in the 21st century it’s about building a real-time data platform.”

Here is Matthew Standish’s take: “Big Data is a term used by industry professionals, media and analysts to describe a new technology market focused on combining both structured data types and unstructured data types. ‘Big Data’ also signifies a technology software platforms that have the ability to intelligently analyze data “Analytics” and take action on the data that drives loyalty, marketing and ultimately ROI.”

Meet the Big Data Experts

  • Margaret Dawson is Vice President of Product Management at Symform and is a 20-year high-tech industry veteran and cloud expert. She is a frequent author and speaker on cloud computing, big data, network security, integration and other business and technology themes.
  • David Jonker works within SAP’s Database & Technology unit with a focus on Big Data initiatives and the company’s in-memory database platform SAP HANA.
  • Sanjay Sarathy is the Chief Marketing Officer at Sumo Logic with over seventeen years of marketing, business development and community building experience in both SaaS and enterprise software environments.
  • Matthew Standish is Chief Executive Officer, Founder and Chief Architect of IDInteract.

Featured image via “Timeline of the Universe”