Executive Summary

Working with Big Data

By Jordan Roberts

Primary purpose

With the increase in popularity of the internet, an influx of big data has grown along with it. Big data, or statistical information, plays a large role in society as it depends on statistics to explain previously unknown information about the world around us. Working with big data, we can collect, process, analyze and utilize information for a variety of purposes to benefit a number of job fields including business, healthcare and government among others.

What is big data?

Defined as a collection of large data sets that can’t be analyzed with normal statistical methods, big data is measured in Exabyte’s (one quintillion or 1 followed by 18 zeros). Big data is present in more than just numbers including video, pictures, maps and even words. There are two types of big data, structured and unstructured. Structured data is easily categorized or analyzed words and numbers. Unstructured data, on the other hand, is not as easily analyzed reviewing more complicated information such as websites, social networks and photos. It relies on keywords to filter through information. Its use has become more popular in recent years thanks to the growth of the internet and big data itself.

Working with big data

People such as software developers collect, process and analyze big data, also known as data scientists or analysts. These employees’ responsibilities range from solving algorithms to cleaning or “scrubbing” data. Depending on the position, different professional fields utilize big data. Business, for example, based their decisions on data collected. E-commerce jobs, on the other hand, use data to improve customer service. Other positions and differences include social networking, telecommunications, science, healthcare, government and finance jobs. All of which use big data to analyze information to better the success of their services and understanding of their individual niche markets. As the amount of big data continues to grow, so does the demand and salary for employees who can analyze and utilize big data.

Challenges presented by big data

Though big data has presented many newfound opportunities in the business world, it has also presented many new challenges. Due to the influx of data and need for people who understand it, the efforts to keep up with funding big data analytical projects has become challenging. Finding a place to store and archive this data provides us with another conundrum as it comes in such high volumes. Attempt to sort through the data is also difficult in determining which data is useful or not in order to serve its purpose, accurately measuring what it was intended to measure. With all new sources, figuring who actually owns the data is also difficult because its used by so many people at one time. Thus, leading to the question of how owners protect or even control their data as it continues to grow in volume.

Preparing to work with big data

With most skills or specialization, training to use big data is required whether through course work, experience and education. Potential workers must already harbor communication skills as well as the ability to work as a team in order to be able to analyze and apply data to various fields or concerns. An amount of curiosity is also helpful, as data provides answers and information to previously unanswered questions.

Conclusion

Big data is an important and new phenomenon providing important information for a variety of industries. Provided by highly skilled and trained employees, the growing amount of big data provides answers or determining factors for professionals to conduct research, provide new products or even customer service in a variety of fields.