Big data. Everyone’s talking about it. Everyone wants it. Many don’t know if they have it. Most aren’t sure what they’d do with it, even if they did have it. And we say – who cares?

There is so much jargon when it comes to data. “Big data” is the biggest culprit. Literally. So what is big data? Have you got any? Do you want any? And should you even care? Let’s discuss.


What is big data?

Well, clearly it’s big.  But, how big? There isn’t a standard definition, of X terabytes or exabytes of data, that we can neatly fit this into, so it is subjective.

You can test if you have big data by considering the five Vs:

  1. VOLUME – How much data have you got? If you can open it in Excel, it’s small. If you need a supercomputer, it’s big.
  2. VARIETY – Is everything neatly in a table of structured numbers? Or do you have loads of unstructured data from social media, audio recordings and imagery? Unstructured data is ‘bigger’ than structured data as it’s harder to categorise and file.
  3. VERACITY – Can you trust your data? Do you know that there are a reliable data source and consistent data processing methods? 
  4. VELOCITY – Are you collecting data every year, such as for financial services policies? It’s probably small. Or are you collecting data every second or micro-second, like a social media platform? It’s probably big.
  5. VALUE – Could the data be sliced and diced in all different ways to identify patterns and trends that you couldn’t even anticipate? If so, it could be considered ‘big’ in terms of value.

You could look at the number of bytes involved:

Remember that most files you use every day are KBs and MBs…so TBs and PBs are BIG!

But if Vs & bytes aren’t your thing, here’s our take on it – in a nutshell…

  • if you’re collecting data every second, your data is too big to process on a laptop and/or if you need a coder to analyse it…it’s probably big.
  • if you’re collecting data annually, your data is normally analysed in Excel and it’s stored onsite, it’s probably small.

And just by looking at a business, from a distance, you can probably guess whether they have big or small data:

Does size matter?

We think not. Small Data. Big Data?! Who cares? Small data can be even more interesting, insightful and valuable if analysed in the right way. Whatever your business, whatever the size of your data, you could be using data to make more money for your business…or, at the very least, make quicker, smarter decisions.

With small data, you can create actionable insights, interactive tools and make more money.

And many more…

Small data can be just as valuable as big data, sometimes more so. It all comes down to:

  • What insight can you draw from your data?
  • Who can use that insight?
  • How can they use that insight?
  • When can they use insight?
  • And how much is it worth? Either in terms of what they’ll pay for it, or what actions they can take using it, and how that could benefit their business

Small data is awesome and brings many advantages:

  • It’s cheaper to store, process and analyse
  • It’s easier to identify patterns and trends
  • It’s easier to change your data processes, when you want to start collecting more data or introduce new analysis

So, our two leave-behind tips for you are…

  1. Don’t fall for the “big data” jargon
  2. Love your small data

Want any help with your big or small data opportunity? Talk to us at hello@data-cubed.co.uk