The Dimensions of Big Data

Today, analysts seek to derive insight from large, heterogeneous, high-velocity (i.e., big) data sets using varying data analysis methods. These data sets are ubiquitous. They arise due to burgeoning cloud computing services, the anticipated Internet of Services (IoS), and the emerging Internet of Things (IoT). Big data is often defined as any data set that cannot be handled using today’s widely available mainstream solutions, techniques, and technologies.

Currently, there is a shift towards data-driven decision-making in both industry and the sciences. This trend was described in a big data study we recently conducted for the German BMWi (formerly the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, today known as the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy). In the study, big data challenges and opportunities were classified into five dimensions, namely, technology, application, economic, legal, and social. These are described below.

Technology. There is a need for scalable systems and platforms for data analysis, novel data analysis methods, and in particular technologies to help overcome the skills gap (e.g., enabling data analysis methods to be accessible to a wider audience).

Application. Many novel applications are emerging in the information economy, such as information marketplaces, which refine and sell enriched data. These information marketplaces are effectively bootstrapping the information economy. Other examples include personalized medicine, Industry 4.0, and digital humanities. 

Economic. The challenges and opportunities in the economic dimension lie in new business models and content delivery paradigm shifts (e.g., information pricing and the role of open¬-source software). 

Legal. From a legal perspective, big data will present many challenges with respect to ownership, liability, and insolvency, in addition to prevalent issues, such as privacy and security. 

Social. Lastly, data driven innovation will have a profound impact on society as a whole with respect to social interaction, news, and democratic processes, among others.