Home > Articles > Business & Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

1.2 What Is Different?

Companies have been capturing data for years and conducting analysis to gain market intelligence. It is natural to wonder what exactly is different today.

The difference is scale. This scale is in terms of the amount of data and the computing capability to analyze it. Combined, these elements can offer objective, evidence-based insights into virtually every aspect of a business. This has created a new level of competitiveness and the opportunity for companies to use this intelligence as a competitive advantage. We are living through a data explosion. According to a recent New York Times article, “Data is a vital raw material of the information economy, much as coal and iron ore were in the Industrial Revolution. But the business world is just beginning to learn how to process it all.”14

The three characteristics of big data—volume, velocity, and variety—are what make big data different from all the other data collected in the past (see Figure 1.2).15

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.2 The three Vs of big data

1.2.1 Volume

Today’s data is huge and data is everywhere. Consider that Google receives more than three billion queries every day, a volume that is thousands of times the quantity of all printed material in the U.S. Library of Congress; Facebook gets more than 10 million new photos uploaded every hour; Walmart conducts a million transactions per hour; and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) trades 490 million shares per day.16 The amount of data generated will continue to grow exponentially. In fact, the number of RFID tags sold globally is projected to rise from 12 million in 2011 to 209 billion in 2021.17

Manufacturers and retailers are collecting data all along their supply chains. This includes data from POS, GPS, and RFID data, to data emitted by equipment sensors, to social media feeds. Virtually all companies have information technology (IT) systems in their back offices. The world we live in is enveloped in data. When converting terabytes and exabytes into meaningful terms, it is estimated that the data that companies and individuals are producing and storing is equivalent to filling more than 60,000 U.S. Libraries of Congress.18 Where is this data going? It is accumulating in large pools growing larger by the minute. This is big data. In fact, many companies do not even recognize the data they possess and how valuable it is. Data can be traded or sold, and it has economic value. Data is the new asset.

1.2.2 Velocity

Yes, the data is large. The data is growing. And it is growing rapidly.

Data has become a deluge flowing into every aspect of business and everyday life. Companies are capturing exponentially growing volumes of transactional data. They are also capturing volumes of information about their customers, suppliers, and operations. Consider that there are millions of sensors embedded in physical devices all around us, including mobile phones, smart energy meters, automobiles, and industrial machines. These devices capture and communicate data in what is called the age of the Internet of Things.19

Companies and individuals are generating a tremendous amount of digital exhaust data. This is data that is created as a by-product of other activities and is generated just by going about everyday business. Consumers going about their day through texting, communicating, browsing, searching, and buying are creating digital trails. These trails can be captured, monitored, and analyzed. Social media sites, smartphones, PCs, and laptops have enabled billions of individuals around the world to continue adding to the amount of big data available. The growing amount of multimedia content has played a major role in the exponential growth in the amount of big data. In fact, each second of high-definition video, for example, generates more than 2,000 times as many bytes as required to store a single page of text.20

Companies are collecting data with increasingly greater granularity and frequency. They can capture every customer transaction. They can attach increasingly personal information to these transactions. As a result, they are collecting more information about consumer behavior in many different environments. Companies can then aggregate and disaggregate this data in infinite combinations to mathematically optimize and determine the best marketing strategies, custom-tailored shopping experiences, flexible and targeted product designs, and an optimized fulfillment system.

1.2.3 Variety

Big data is also in every form imaginable. Most of us think of data as numbers neatly stored in columns and rows. However, big data is in combinations of forms and this variety is growing. It is in the form of structured data that we are familiar with but may also be readings from sensors, GPS signals from cell phones, and POS and RFID data. It is also unstructured, such as text and voice messages, social networks feeds, and blogs.

Sources of big data are everywhere—from sensors such as RFID and POS data at retail checkouts, to geolocation information transmitted from GPS signals, to vibration and heat sensors on equipment, to social media feeds (think of Twitter “re-tweets” and Facebook “likes”), to maintenance logs, to customer complaints (see Figure 1.3). Most smartphones have GPS capabilities that enable tracking. Cars alone are stuffed with chips, sensors, and software that upload performance data to the carmakers’ computers when the vehicle is serviced. Typical mid-tier vehicles now have some 40 microprocessors and electronics that account for one third of their cost.21 How else does your car manufacturer inform you that it is time for service?

Figure 1.3

Figure 1.3 Sources of data are everywhere

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020