“Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis, and visualization. The trend to larger data sets is due to the additional information derivable from analysis of a single large set of related data, as compared to separate smaller sets with the same total amount of data, allowing correlations to be found to “spot business trends, determine quality of research, prevent diseases, link legal citations, combat crime, and determine real-time roadway traffic conditions.” — Wikipedia

Big data is big. It’s not only large (in terms of the size of data sets), but it’s also a super-popular topic amongst those seeking to leverage the big business secrets locked inside huge collections of data.

Big data, says Michael Chui, Senior Fellow, McKinsey & Company, “has become part of every sector and function of the global economy, it’s becoming an essential factor of production just like labor and capital. It’s fast becoming a key basis of competition, determining who will be the winners and losers within sectors.”

That’s because collecting and storing and using big data — mining it for insights — can truly enhance productivity, Chui says.

“Some of the connections between IT and productivity that we have seen in the past will repeat itself in terms of the use of big data to drive another level of improved productivity moving forward. In the US Healthcare market alone,” Chui says, “we estimate the sector could capture [from big data] more $300 billion in value per year, cutting US healthcare expenditures on a national basis by 8%.”

Despite its “hot topic” status amongst the digerati, many content professionals don’t understand its connection to their work. If you’ve yet to fully understand the excitement surrounding big data projects, take 2 minutes and 28 seconds to learn from the explainers of complex topics at Common Craft. Their video (below) quickly explains how big data works and why we need it.

Learn more about big data.