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Several weeks back, shortly after the frantic rush surrounding Thanksgiving weeks “Black Friday” holiday, I read what I found to be an intriguing and informative article.  Apparently, consumers spent over 700 million dollars on the web on products in 2011 on Black Friday alone.  This past Black Friday, consumers spent well over one billion on products bought online.  One of the main reasons why this change occurred was actually attributed to the rise in big data.  More and more companies have begun to aggregate large amounts of data related to consumer’s shopping preferences, what types of products they buy, how much they are looking to spend and where the point of sales actually takes place- i.e., store-front, online, catalog, etc.  More and more folks are buying items online these days, and these consumer driven advertisements based on what types of things people want, are only driving things home further. Aside from retail, Big Data is used all over the map.  In the defense space, corporations like Raytheon and Mitre to spot and assess areas of vulnerability and risk.  Healthcare organizations use big data to improve care and increase the likelihood of finding cures for deadly diseases through research, pharma enhancements and sickness prevention.  Government agencies use aggregated big data for law enforcement purposes, and financial companies use it to spot market trends, look for key indicators for growth amongst investment opportunities.

Why is Big Data used and what are examples?

Big Data is defined as data sets that are so large and complex, that it’s impossible to process using a traditional database (i.e. SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle Database.)  Aforementioned industries use big data because they have so much information to process, and need their information to be accurate and precise, and simply cannot rely on a regularly-sized database.  Technologies like NoSQL (MongoDB and CouchDB) are used by many start-ups in the mobile or consumer driven advertising space to increase their information available to better target consumers for their goods.  Saas, Cloud and Distributed Systems are also used as a form of big data, especially in the enterprise space.  Technologies like Hadoop and Hive are used in Java, .Net and Open Source environments to structure large data sets as well.  Cassandra was invented by Facebook to keep track of all their member preferences, likes, friend lists and groups.

Big Trends for 2013

Big data figures to be relevant in 2013 in the following areas:

1.)    Bigger impact in the B2B collaboration space

2.)    More relevant, consumer driven mobile advertising

3.)    Increased privacy- more and more folks are buying online, their credit card and social security info are on the web more now than ever.  Big data will work to protect that information.

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