Information Collection: Business Builds Big Data

Peter Knight| Cloudtweaks

In the beginning there was the electronic computer. It was a tool for defending freedom, useful to use in breaking enemy communications codes and crunching equations for the Manhattan Project. Eventually it became the plaything of hobbyists and garage experimenters. In their garages, they eventually cobbled together machines that were useful and practical for real people.

These earliest personal computers were essentially toys until the first “killer apps” were created. These included the earliest forms of computer spreadsheet. A spreadsheet seems a simple thing, and it is for just about any computer. With this simple addition computers became as important to business as they were too scientists and hobbyists, if not more so.

Business Is Information

All business is in the business of collecting information. Information about your customer base is needed to bring them the products they want. Information about your supply chain helps to predict what products you will have to sell. Information about your competitors tells you where and how you need to innovate. It all depends on finding, storing, and interpreting information.

While business was happily expanding and filling their spreadsheets, the hobbyists and scientists were teaching their computers to talk to one another, eventually creating the Internet. Suddenly, we were no longer limited by the information contained in our own computer, we had access to information from around the world.

The Internet is a terrific place to store and share information, but the nature of business information is such that it is not always desirable to share your information with those outside your enterprise. When the Internet learned to store information, and keep it private and secure, it became the Cloud.

Welcome To The Cloud

As business moves its information into the Cloud, the traditional business applications are no longer able to handle the increased load of data. This is the text-book definition of Big Data. One of earliest super-computers outside of Government or Academia was built to handle AT&T’s billing system. Today, Wal-Mart stores handle 1 million transactions every hour, approximately 2.5 petabytes of information.

Big Data is becoming important for business of all sizes. The smallest of local businesses are no longer strictly local. Thanks to the Internet they can easily market to a world-wide client base.

Big Data and business relationships reach beyond the Internet. If the International marketplace was just for the exchange of information and money, the ‘net may be a sufficient tool, but physical goods are exchanged as well. The sprocket manufactured in your home town getting shipped and installed on a machine in Malaysia is a miracle of shipping. When it happens hundreds of thousands of times a day, it involves Big Data.

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