What is Big Data 

Learn more about Big Data and its 5 Vs.

What is Big Data?

Big Data is everywhere and all around us. Organisations who analyse volumes of data from their customers, employees and processes reap the benefit of addressing business challenges and predict solutions. Big Data is massive volumes of complex data collected and stored to be analysed, unravelled and communicated. Ultimately the value of Big Data is to continuously improve processes, reduce waste, increase productivity, efficiency and accountability. Innovation is another reason why Big Data is important. For an organisation to innovate, be it for sustainability, profitability, or governance, it needs Big Data to help them navigate through this change.

The 5 Vs of Big Data

Big Data has 5 key characteristics, most commonly known as 5Vs.


Big Data needs massive amounts of data collected from different sources. For example the sensors, monitoring and the equipment from a commercial airline can generate up to 1 Terabyte of data just in one flight. Imagine how much data the airline industry generates.


Velocity in Big Data refers to the speed at which data is processed. It is important for data generated, communicated and analysed quickly to make timely decisions. A commercial flight transmits data while take off, flying and landing and continuously transmits data to control towers in real time. For organisations who achieve velocity, they react better. This is where Big Data requires modern IT Infrastructure to quickly capture, store and analyse volumes of data. Data centers, data warehouses, cloud storage and analytics software are part of the Big Data ecosystem to deliver data at speeds that are needed, often in real time.


Big Data makes sense of complex data coming from a variety of sources. This is where Big Data clearly differentiates itself from just data. The Big Data discipline gathers all data then organises the information collected for deeper analysis. There are three different types of data to form Big Data: structured, semi-structured, and unstructured.

  • Structured data – are fixed and organised data commonly used in database management systems.
  • Unstructured data – are a variety of unorganised data like images, videos, audio, and emails used to drive innovations in an organisation.
  • Semi-structured data – are a combination of structured and unstructured data wherein it doesn’t follow a certain format.

Often at this stage data scientists will use tools like predictive software, artificial intelligence and machine learning to unravel data that previously were unrelated and not meaningful.


Veracity refers to whether the data can be trusted. It just takes one source or piece of unreliable data which can taint the overall findings. Big Data must ensure quality and credibility of data is achieved. Since data comes from different sources, varying technologies and frequency checking, truth in data is crucial before data analysis. The airline, mining and healthcare industries are great examples who rely heavily on the veracity of data to guide their safety protocols.


Big Data makes data valued and valuable. Data and the process of distilling the right information must be useful to the organisation, its customers and the general public. For data to be valuable it would have helped decision makers not only solve problems but also to impact big issues within and outside their organisation. Properly telling the Big Data story is crucial to add value to the success of the organisation. Check out why the Big Data story needs to be told to earn trust.

The Usage of Big Data

Today, Big Data is used by every industry. Technology and economy forecasters predict Big Data will be the next trend in technological advances for the next 5 years. Already, technology and media companies are taking advantage of Big Data. They constantly analyse information stored in their data warehouses for insights from social network habits, click streams, movie streaming and internet searches. Yet beyond the tech companies finance, healthcare, mining, transport, logistics and government have been active in using Big Data.

Big Data is not only for big business. Any business can take advantage of using big data into improve their processes, boost productivity, plan out a more effective strategy, and build consumer relations.

There is still a wide range of corporations out there who use Big Data for their business. They might differ in the purpose and process of analysing the data, but their goals are to gain bigger insights.