I became familiar with the concept of Big Data this year when I met a particular gentleman who works at IBM. His role at IBM is to promote the need of data scientists at universities because there is more digital data to deal with than there are trained professionals to deal with it. 4.4 million data scientists are needed by 2015 (link). The year 2015 is only a couple of months away!

So what is Big Data? It is the terminology used to reference all the data being generated through a number of digital processes. It is data we generate in our digital world while we:

  • surf the web,
  • post on social media sites (tweets, pics, posts… all of it and any of it),
  • text,
  • buy online or just browse, or
  • read a blog.


Have you noticed that after you’ve researched something mundane on the web like a part to repair your shower drip (which I did), you then start seeing that item advertised to you on Facebook, Amazon, mail accounts, and different web sites? Or after you’ve entered a retail store and walk by an item who’ve previously viewed on the web, you receive an advertisement notification on your smart phone? These are just two examples of Big Data at work.

It’s similar to George Orwell’s Big Brother in the book “1984.” Our interactions with the digital world are captured by someone somewhere. The data are captured either by the company that owns the site or a third party. These companies then run numerical analysis on the data to reveal information about their customers. When done right, companies can better target their marketing and products to convert people who simply look to people who actually buy.

What information is collected and how it is used is concerning from a privacy perspective. What I’ve shared above is only the start. As I’m learning, I hope to educate you because in this increasingly digital world, Big Data will only get bigger.