Big data has become a buzzword in the research and business worlds. Today everyone seems to want a piece of it. Many recommend using it, but no one seems to define it very well. Everyone except for Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier, writers of this 2013 bestseller.
“Big Data” means more to them than just having access to a larger quantity of information. For them it is a paradigmatic shift in the way people use information. As technology allows for the recollection, storage, and analysis of enormous datasets, the sample of our database approximates the universe. In other words, it means the end of statistical methods of estimation. As Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier say: “we mean ‘big’ less in absolute than in relative terms: relative to the comprehensive set of data.”
Our take: In medicine, science and technology, harnessing big data has provided a competitive advantage and led to research breakthroughs. The consumer and investment sectors are a bit further behind, but they are poised to gain from this trend.