Working with big data
By Sara Royster

The purpose of this article is to inform the public about big data,the role that it plays in today's society, the careers associated with it and proper training for working with big data.

What is big data?

Big data is such a large collection of datasets that normal statistical methods can't be used to analyze them. They are measured in exabytes,which is one quintillion bytes. The data can be numbers, words, pictures, videos or anything that can be found online. This big data can be classified into either structured or unstructured data. Structured data are things that can be easily manipulated to be analyzed such as numbers and words. Sales figures or transaction data can be easily classified and is also a form of structured data. Unstructured data cannot be as easily categorized, since it consists of more complex information such as comments on social media, pictures, and customer reviews. Keywords must be used to analyze unstructured data to allow users to search by certain terms.

Working with big data

Although some work that goes with big data is computerized, humans still are the ones that make the collection and analyzation of the data possible. A computer scientist can create programs and algorithms that try to find useful information from large data sets. The statisticians or "data scientists" are the ones responsible for making sense of the big data. Apart from programming and statistics, big data plays a large role in business, E-commerce, finance, government, healthcare, and science, as well as social networking and telecommunications.

Challenges presented by big data

Since big data is a fairly new phenomenon, there are challenges when it comes to the funding, storage, protection, and interpretation. Because of the economy and recent recession, governments and companies may be cutting costs related to the analyzation of big data. Since there is such a vast amount of data to be processed, there are numerous servers that could be needed for just one organization, and finding actual useful data among a large amount of unstructured data can be a challenge.
Preparing to work with big data
One of the biggest problems with big data is the lack of workers with proper training in statistical analysis and computer networks. To pursue a career in big data analysis, a bachelor's or higher degree is necessary, with course work emphasizing on math, statistics, and computer science.This along with good problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills will lead to a career that requires the ability to constantly learn new things, because technology is constantly evolving.
Big data is a large collection of datasets that can be either structured or unstructured. This data can be analyzed for a variety of reasons, by big data analysts. There are several challenges faced when working with big data, but it will continue to play a role in society as it continues to grow with workers that have the proper training and skill sets.