Big data versus fast data

Big data versus fast data

Why the speed of data analytics can be just as valuable as the quantity of data being analyzed.

When it comes to extrapolating value from data, size doesn’t always matter. Sometimes speed is more important than volume.

“As organizations rush to take advantage of big data, they shouldn’t ignore the prospects of data in motion,” says David Orain, a senior consultant focused on emerging technologies at Cisco.

“Sensors, networks, and smart devices are everywhere, providing a torrent of streaming data,” he explains. “This data has tremendous potential, but it retains its highest value for only a short period of time.”

  • With big data, the value derived is typically proportional to the quantity of information being analyzed.
  • With data in motion, value is relative to the speed with which information can be processed and acted upon.

“To reap the most value, organizations must master both,” says Orain. “Big data provides context, data in motion provides real-time insight.”

While both are important, Orain says data in motion is often easier and less expensive to exploit. Because real-time processing is applied to data that is already flowing, organizations don’t have to do the heavy lifting—such as consolidation, storage, and analytics—associated with big data.

“With data in motion, you’re not looking for a needle in the haystack like big data,” Orain says. “It’s all about creating new experiences, services, and efficiencies in real time.”

  • Retailers, for example, can tap video data to understand and interact with customers better and faster. Some have created smart mirrors that combine live video feeds with virtual clothing to let customers “try on” outfits—mixing styles, colors, patterns, and accessories instantaneously.
  • Healthcare is another industry utilizing data in motion. Several providers are using medical sensors to remotely monitor the progress of patients in their homes. Others are sending real-time patient data from ambulances to the emergency room so the hospital can be better prepared for their arrival.
  • The manufacturing industry is taking advantage of “fast” data to improve monitoring and control. For example, video analysis can be used to track the movement of machines, products, and people. This allows operational efficiency to be continually fine-tuned, and problems can be identified and addressed before they become severe.

“With an intelligent network and a secure architectural approach,” says Orain, “forward-thinking organizations can capture and act on the most relevant data while it is still in motion, and while it retains its maximum value.”

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