Big data is exactly what the words suggest it is: data which is big. However I do not mean data whose file size is huge (in a fashion), I just mean the amount of data available in the world is too high, thus giving rise to the name Big Data.
So what exactly is Big Data and what do you do with it?
Imagine creating a Facebook profile. You input your name, date of birth and other details. This is the beginning of the data that is collected from you. Once you create your profile, you add your friends, share a few updates, ‘like’ a few pages and build up your online profile. Every time you do any of what you think is small updates, information about you keeps piling up in Facebook’s servers. No, they do not sit and read every bit of your profile; it is sorted automatically. Now, if it is just you, then there is no need for the word Big Data. And if it is just Facebook, I repeat myself. But, Facebook in itself has over a billion users. And there are many other places in the World Wide Web where you input information about yourself. Not just that, the sites you visit, the things you buy online, the kind of interests that you have, everything is stored as data. For one person, it is small data but when the whole world is involved, welcome to Big Data.
Why is Big Data useful?
As a common consumer, there is not much use for Big Data. But for an organization, Big Data is a goldmine. I used to be fine with the knowledge that my data was stored in a huge server but I had no idea what they could do with the data. Then I got a very simple explanation for it. Now, every website, after you close them, tracks your links for a few more minutes. So, if I browsed for an item in Amazon, and quickly jump to Souq to look for the same item, Amazon will know it. I close the browser without purchasing anything. The next time, no matter what website I visit, both Amazon and Souq will entice me to buy the item that I had left the previous time. They may even offer me a discount. This is a small but significant example of how big data works.
Not just this, Big Data has a lot more significance for corporates. They know about your spending habits, your interests, your health issues, your location, and everything that you have been doing online and use this information to target products at you specifically. Imagine the field day companies would have with such personalized information about each and every person on the planet.
Big data is important, yes. It is even more important to sort and maintain the Big Data so it doesn’t overwhelm you and leave you with a pile of data that you have no use for. But is Big Data really invading your privacy? I’d say no. If my online habits lead me to something useful for myself or my family, I really would appreciate it than look at it as a cause for worry. If I find out that the pair of shoes I avoided buying online is available on sale that is information that I would like to know. But if my personal data is being used to stalk me or cause me harm, I’d rather not go to the internet at all. Corporates have to be really responsible while handling Big Data because it’s either Big Data or no data at all. Are you listening, corporates?
*Infographic Source: SolinkCorp