Is Big Data a Buzzword or a Beacon of Hope?

At its core, Big Data is a large collection of unstructured information which can be used to establish relationships.

The answer of course is a resounding...


Seemingly, anybody who’s involved with anything these days has heard of Big Data, it even made the top 15 most overused words for 2013. So, yes, Big Data definitely meets the qualifications of a buzzword.

Keeping that in mind, Big Data and statistical analysis have also made some major impacts that have been seen in a lot of different places.




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So it also seems that YES, Big Data can also be a beacon of hope, but let’s dive a bit deeper into what Big Data is so we can understand its value.

At its core, Big Data is a large collection of unstructured information which can be used to establish relationships. In fact, to borrow from Hollywood, you could argue that the hit movie ‘V for Vendetta’ should have been called ‘V for Big Data’ because 3 Vs define Big Data.

  • Volume – It is BIG data, so naturally the quantity of information is one key aspect.

  • Variety – I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, ‘Variety is the spice of life’. It’s also a vital part of Big Data, because it can increase the chance that it can produce realistic insights.

  • Velocity – Seemingly this is most important ‘V’ in today’s digital world because of the focus on speed. We want information quickly otherwise it starts to lose its value.

The 3 Vs do a great job defining what Big Data is, but another V is warranted: ‘V’, for Value. Value is what you bring to your customers utilizing Big Data. Essentially it’s what I like to call ‘Fast Data’, which can be broken down into two parts:

  • Speed – Much as ‘Velocity’ is important for Big Data, the ‘Speed’ with which you use that data to respond to your customers is equally crucial.

    In fact, the last time I bought a car the dealer gave me financing options in-person in 5 minutes, and, had they told me I would have to wait a week, I would have abruptly left and gone somewhere else.

  • Context – My colleague Ed Burek (@edburek) wrote a great blog explaining Context in detail and the main takeaway was ‘Context is King’. Customers expect companies to have an understanding of what they want at each interaction point.

    Today a perfect example of context happened to me, when I visited a pharmacy and a supermarket. At check out at the supermarket I got coupons for adult diapers; at the pharmacy I received coupons for almonds. Can you guess which one I’ll use? Time’s up… the answer is the coupon for almonds. Since the pharmacy used the data they had on my buying history to give me a coupon that fit the context of my situation I am much more likely to use it (although I do know where I’ll be buying my groceries when I get older).

To bring us back to the original question, ‘Is Big Data a Buzzword or a Beacon of Hope?’, the answer really is ‘Yes’. It is overused, but it definitely can be used to solve problems, and when applied as Fast Data it can be used to delight your customers.

Can you think of an example where your customers would benefit from Fast Data? Leave a comment, tweet @mikemooretke or send me a message on LinkedIn.

Until next time.

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