The Pros and Cons of Big Data

Samuel Thimothy - December 18, 2012

Big Data: An Imperfect Giant

If you have browsed through tech news at all recently, you have at least heard of Big Data. The term refers to networks of information so large that they require special considerations to manage. Below we will take a look at a few of the pros and cons of Big Data and whether or not your company should worry about utilizing it.

Pros

1. Effectively Unlimited Storage

The volumes of data dealt with by Big Data companies measure easily into the Petabytes. An expansive record of years of online activity for a single person might measure ten or twenty Megabytes in size. Just one Petabyte contains over a billion Megabytes, meaning a single Petabyte of data could hold data files on well over 100 million people, and it would only take four maximum to contain files on everyone in the United States. For marketing based on consumer tendencies, this is an invaluable resource.

2. Accessibility and Speed

Big Data is typically Cloud Data Storage, and the Cloud is everywhere. Being able to access the data from almost any device with an Internet connection is both convenient and useful. In addition, transferring data over the Internet can be nearly as fast as a direct connection, depending on location, hardware, and software.

Older data storage methods relied on keeping the drives in vaults which made it a hassle to retrieve or use, so they were relegated mostly to the function of emergency system backups. The accessibility also comes into play here, combining with the speed to allow the data to be consistently used, not stuck in a vault.

Cons

1. Fewer Data Purges

You may ask why not having to get rid of data may be a con, and the answer is the same reason spyware and adware are considered malicious: privacy. Without the concern of storage limitations, a company can decide to keep every piece of information they garner. This is great from a commercial standpoint, but it can make the old saying of “Once something is on the Internet, it is there forever” even more of a truism. Given that the trend in business is to adopt Big Data, this is a con that is unlikely to be avoided.

2. Security

The Cloud is simply never going to be as secure as an on-site data center. Encryption and other security measures mitigate the risk, but there is an inherent risk in Big Data by allowing access from the Internet and sending the data over it.

3. Untapped Potential

Technology that seems to have great potential may sound like something to add to the pro column, but it can also be seen as a possible expense. To make use of the potential, your staff will have to research and develop these techniques or simply wait until someone else does so.

To Big Data, or Not to Big Data?

There may be cons to Big Data, but they are not so detrimental that it puts utilizing it out of the question. Analytics in particular is greatly enhanced by the existence of Big Data. The best thing to do is look at your company’s goals and decide if having Big Data capabilities will enhance your outlook.


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