Think about the number of people who shop at your local Wal-Mart. The lot is typically full and the lines are typically long. The store keeps expanding its inventory and selling everything from blueberries to books. There are thousands of transactions logged in a day and millions in a year.Now, think about all the transactions at Wal-Marts nationwide. Then, consider Internationally. In 2017, Wal-Mart operated more than 11,000 stores throughout the world. Each of the transactions from every store provide a myriad of data.
Now, zoom out even further. Think about the entire big box retail industry. Think about healthcare, and the financial industry. Think about real estate, construction, transportation, and eCommerce. Think about the information we disclose about ourselves on social media. There’s a lot of data out there and the amount put into the world is growing by the second.
Defining Big Data
Big data is really in the eye of the beholder. What one person considers big data another may consider a normal set. One definition of big data may be any data set distributed on multiple systems.
Let’s say we have a spreadsheet with all our previous customers going back to the beginning of our company. Every time we’ve backed that list up on multiple devices, we’re distributing across multiple systems and using big data, by that definition. Most people wouldn’t consider this to be the case.
There are multiple ways to think about it, and it’s hard to set clear restrictions. On the other hand, there are some common statistics that will illustrate just how much data is out there. Big data is tough to define, but easy to picture in the abstract.
Big Data is Really, Really Big
Below are a few statistics that will give you an idea just how big we’re talking about.
- Research group IDC predicts that the world will be creating 163 zettabytes of data a year by 2025. The current rate is 16.3 zettabytes. (A zettabyte is one trillion gigabytes.)
- The average person uses 8 gigabytes of data per month on their cell phone.
- There are more than 200 billion emails sent and received each day.
- Mastercard alone processes more than 74 billion transactions per year.
- For Prime Day, Amazon sold more than 600 items per second. If that doesn’t sound like much to you, it equates to 36,000 items in a minute, or 2.16 million items in an hour. That’s 51.84 million for the day.
- Five new Facebook profiles are created every second. That’s 300 per minute or 18,000 in an hour. This equates to 432,000 in a day.
All of this is to say there is a considerable amount of data out there and it is growing exponentially fast. This should give you an idea of how big, big data can really be. No matter how you define it, the information created from the above examples would qualify as big data.
What Data is Right for You?
It’s no longer enough to guess when you need to make decisions regarding your business. Big data and analytics software allow organizations to make more informed decisions by reviewing the numbers.
Reviewing all the data that’s available would be a giant waste of time and prevent you from ever moving forward. It is possible to get so sucked into the numbers that you feel paralyzed in your decision-making capability. But if you evaluate the data that truly makes sense for your business, it can do you a tremendous amount of good.
It helps to have demographic information regarding your potential clients, and those who have already bought. It helps to know the direction that your industry is trending and where you fit in. Analyzing the right information can help your organization succeed in today’s economy.