What is Big Data? - Definition, Concepts & Uses

Instructor: Jason Matyus
The concept of big data does is boundless and is used on a global scale. In this lesson, we'll define big data and discuss its factors and uses around the world.

The History of Keeping Information

Data storage has been going on since information began being gathered. Information collection started on stone in the earliest days, then paper files, and now in the online cloud. What has changed from those early days is how fast the information is coming and what can be done with all the information. There is an array of uses for large data such as government accounting, education and research, and business analysis.


Big data is basically an information set so large that traditional methods for analyzing it are not possible. Do you remember a time in school when a lot of information was thrown at you all at once, and it was so much, so fast, that you couldn't remember any of it? That is a little bit like how big data works; a lot of different data coming at you all at once. Special software is needed to break it down. With that in mind let's look at the different factors of big data. They include:

  • Volume - the amount of data that comes from many different sources such as social media, business transactions, and many miscellaneous sources.
  • Multiple formats - data can come in email, video, audio, structured and unstructured documents, and more.
  • Velocity - the velocity at which transmitted information moves is limited only by the most recent technology.


Let's consider the uses for big data. The advantage of capturing large amounts of different data streaming through a global network is to be able to analyze and use the data to your advantage. Otherwise the information stays stored and unused. Typically, analysis involves looking for patterns in human or customer interaction and behavior.

If you are in business, and you need to know how sales are doing in a retail chain store on a national level, you can cast a big net and gather information in real time. The information received from that big data can be analyzed to give feedback on price margins, losses, gains, and inventory. This information can help you make decisions about changes to be made or to better take advantage of gains in the marketplace.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it now
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account