Big data is a buzzword that has been flying around the business sector for years. Marketers talk about it, executives rely on it, and analysts thrive on it. With a name that includes the word “big”, it begs the question: How big is big?
What Is Big Data?
Before we talk about the size of the big data market, let’s first establish a working definition. According to the dictionary, big data refers to “extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.”
Not the most helpful definition. Maybe a more applicable definition is large scale data sets, in structured and unstructured formats, a company can analyze to reveal trends and patterns to inform business decisions.
Structured and Unstructured Data
Big data can be organized into two formats: structured and unstructured. Structured data refers to a format that keeps the data linked together—such as the name, address, and phone number of a business. Unstructured data, on the other hand, refers to data in a single format and single files—such as photos, videos, and PDF files.
Where Does Big Data Come From?
Big data can include data from a variety of sources—both traditional and digital. Traditional data includes data gathered from paper archives, transactions at point-of-sale, call centers, etc. While digital data includes data gathered from website analytics, social media, email marketing, etc.
Big data can also be broken into internal and external data. Internal data refers to data that is stored behind an organization’s firewall. External data, on the other hand, refers to all other data.
The “Big” in Big Data
If we only look at digital data, it’s estimated that roughly 2.5 billion gigabytes of data is created daily. As of April 2017, there were 3.8 billion internet users—up from 2.4 billion in 2014. There were 3.4 billion more mobile device users than desktop users. What’s more, smartphone usage among Americans grew by 22% compared to 2015.
But big data includes more than just the data sets—it also includes the technologies used to capture and analyze them. According to a recent analysis of the market, it is estimated that the global big data market will reach $200 billion by 2024. For a little perspective, the big data market was at $130 billion in 2016.
Professional services—companies hired to provide consultation, analyze data, or even installing data software solutions—represent two-fifths of the big data market. It’s expected that big data software will overtake the market over the next decade.