Like many common technology terms around today, ‘big data’ is difficult to define for most people. In simple terms it means data sets that are so large they have been traditionally difficult to work with. Perhaps a good analogy is to imagine the typical document size you work on, say no more than 10 pages. Now imagine trying to work on a document with the same set of tools that is 10,000,000 pages in size. That is kind of the scale we mean when we refer to ‘big data’.

The interesting thing now is that the power of technology is allowing businesses to work with big data and extract information that was once impossible to retrieve. Another analogy could be to imagine that you tracked the route everyone took when they entered the city. Every person, no matter how they entered the city.

Suppose you recorded those locations as GPS co-ordinates into a database. When you think about it, that is ‘big data’. Now suppose you could dump all those co-ordinates in a program that could allow you to, for example, determine where people went after exiting station or how how many people waited at traffic lights before crossing. I think you get the picture of the amount of interesting information that is contained in all that data.

The speeds at which modern technology can now crunch and analyse numbers means that the ability extract information from vast amounts of data is becoming easier. It is also becoming more available to all businesses large and small. This is why ‘big data’ is important and why, more than likely, you’ll be hearing more and more about it.