What is Big Data? Its Characteristics & Applications

Big Data

What is Big Data?

Data – Data is the collection of raw facts & statistics which is used to extract the information. In other words, data is qualities, characters, or symbol on which operations are performed by the computer and stored it in the form of magnetic or optical recording media. 

So, as the name signifies, BIG DATA is data in big size.

We know the size of data is growing exponentially as time passes. The volume of data is growing in such a way that traditional data management tools are not enough to handle it efficiently. Big data is not only huge in volume but also complex to understand and process.

Let’s understand the big data with a real-life example.

  • A giant social media company Facebook gets 500+ terabytes of data each day. These data contain photos, videos, comments, tickets, etc.
  •  The University of Alabama has more than 38,000 students and an ocean of data related to them.
  • A single Jet engine can generate 10+terabytes of data in 30 minutes of flight time. We can imagine how many Petabytes of data is generated by thousands of flights all over the world.

Types of Big Data

There are mainly three types of Big Data, they are –

  1. Structured – Structured Big Data owns a dedicated data model. It has a well-defined structure that is easy to access and use. It is usually stored in a well-defined database. Example. Database Management Systems (DBMS).
  2. Unstructured – It is the opposite of structured big data. It does not follow any formal structural rules of data models. Example – audio files, images, videos.
  3. Semi-structured – It is somehow like structured data fails to have a definite structure. It does not follow the formal structure of data models such as RDBMS. Example – CSV file.

Characteristics of Big Data

Big Data characteristics can be described with the 4V’s as follows

  1. Velocity – Velocity refers to the speed of generation of data from various sources. With the growth of Interner of Things (IoT) devices, data streams into businesses at an unprecedented speed and must be handled in a timely manner.  Sources like business processes, application logs, networks, and social media sites, sensors, mobile devices flow continuously.
  2. Volume – An organization collects the data from various sources like consumers, smart IoT devices, business transactions, social media, industrial equipment. The data is enormously large that needs to be handled carefully. One main characteristic of Big Data is its big volume.
  3. Variety  – Variety means data come in different formats. For example, in the form of text, images, video, numeric, audio, and many more. So, Big Data contains a variety of data that has to be processed and analyzed. It refers to heterogeneous sources and the nature of data, both structured and unstructured.
  4. Variability – This refers to the inconsistency which can be shown by the data at times, thus hampering the process of being able to handle and manage the data effectively.  Increase in varieties and velocity of data, data flows are unpredictable. Data flow is affected by social media trends, seasonal events, and many more factors.
  1. Veracity  – Veracity is the quality of data. Because data comes from heterogeneous sources, it is difficult to link, match, cleanse, and transform data across systems. It basically means the degree of reliability that the data has to offer. Since most of the data are unstructured and irrelevant, Big Data needs to filter them as the data is crucial in business developments.

Challenges of Big Data

Gig data handling is a very complex process. There might be an issue in data management, converting big data into a big data structure, synchronizing across data sources, extracting information from data.  Following are major challenges in big data.

  • Dealing with huge data
  • Shortage of data scientists
  • Data governance and security
  • Data integrity
  • Organizational resistance
  • Big data handling costs
  • Upscaling problems
  • Data validation
  • Time-to-information – making decisions with real-time devices.

Application of Big Data

Big Data Application
Image Source – https://data-flair.training/blogs/big-data-applications/

Big data can be used in various fields of business today. It is a must in every business domain as data is getting bigger and bigger every day. With that, the following fields are the most applicable field for big data.

  • Big Data in Healthcare
  • Big Data in E-Commerce
  • Big Data in Telecom
  • Big Data in Media and Entertainment
  • Big Data in Education
  • Big Data in Retail
  • Big Data in Travel


  • Big Data Definition – Big data is a large volume of data collected from heterogeneous sources.
  • Types of Big Data – There are three types of big data, they are structured, unstructured, and semi-structured.
  • Big Data Characteristics – Velocity, Volume, Variety, Veracity, and Variability are the main characteristics of big data.
  • Applications – There are lots of applications of big data are data is crucial for every business such as e-commerce, hotel, travel, education, social media, telecommunication, retails, and many more.






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