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5 Things You Need to Know About Big Data

To succeed in data analytics—or just about any information technology career—you need a good understanding of big data.

Every day, the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data.* That’s 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of new data being added to the nearly immeasurable amount of data already out there, which is why all this data is cumulatively known as big data. But what does having all this data mean for us? And what can we do with it?

Big data analytics is answering those questions and revolutionizing how we perceive the world. Whether you’re thinking about going into data analytics—or have any kind of information technology or computer science job—you can help your career by gaining a better understanding of how big data is impacting modern life, business, and governance.


Data Is Coming From Everywhere

We live incredibly connected lives. Much of our lives are captured and stored as data, from the pictures in our phones to the numbers in our bank accounts to the documents on our laptops. And that’s just the beginning. If you have any kind of internet-connected device in your home (a security system, a TV, a DVD player, etc.), you’re creating data that’s being transmitted and collected. On top of that, your employer is almost surely using computers and the internet to conduct all or part of their business. When you consider how many people and businesses there are in the world—and you consider all the ways they are creating data—you can see why data is growing so rapidly.

Big Data Is Revolutionizing How We Think About and Manage Complex Systems

One of the most significant advantages of big data is that it allows us to collect and organize vast amounts of information. With this information, we can uncover previously unseen patterns that can, in turn, help us improve the way we live, do business, and govern. Some of the ways organizations can use big data and data analysis include the following:

  • Retail stores can closely track and analyze sales, learning what sells best and when, what shelving methods work best, and what prices motivate what consumers. Taken together, this data can improve efficiency and sales.
  • Medical researchers can analyze the correlations between thousands of diseases and biological and behavioral variables to uncover new connections between illnesses and their associated risk factors, leading to better screening, earlier detection of disease, and stronger preventative medicine.
  • Law enforcement can meld crime data with data on economic conditions, healthcare, and even weather patterns to better understand when and where crime arises. This can allow for more effective policing and can help create safer communities.

Not All Data Is Created Equally

When you’re dealing with huge amounts of data, you have to be able to separate out the useful bits from the general noise. That requires serious skill, whether you’re designing software that can sort the data or interpreting data that has already been sorted. Organizations already have plenty of raw data. What they need is people who can help create rich data. Think of it like mining. Rich data is the pure ore you can extract. But that takes time and expertise.

Organizations Need People Capable of Working With Big Data

The explosion of available data coupled with the increasing importance and usefulness of data analytics is creating a skills gap. Experts estimate that as many as 85% of Fortune 500 companies fail to make effective use of the data they have access to. As such, people with big data experience are in high demand, with the average advertised salary for those with big data technical expertise coming in at $124,000 annually. If you’re a database administrator, computer programmer, software engineer/software developer, system analyst, or chief information officer, big data experience can lead to big successes in your career.

One of the Best Ways to Master Data Analytics Is Through an Advanced IT Degree

If you lack big data experience or expertise, you can gain both by earning an MS in Information Technology. Designed to help you develop essential programming, networking, and database management and development skills, an information technology master’s degree can enhance your overall information technology know-how and allow you to specialize in big data analytics.

Best of all, earning your master’s degree no longer means driving to a campus or sitting through classes at times that interfere with your job or other responsibilities. Instead, you can earn your MS in Information Technology degree online. When you enroll in an online university, you can complete your information technology degree coursework from home and on a flexible schedule. This can allow you to continue working full time, which is why online education is so popular among working adults.

Big data is changing the world. You can be a part of it when you earn an MS in Information Technology.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Information Technology degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*IBM, What Is Big Data?, on the internet at

†J. Hinks, 5 Things You Need to Know About Big Data, TechRadar, on the internet at

‡L. Columbus, Where Big Data Jobs Will Be in 2016, Forbes, on the internet at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,