Data 101 and the Data Deluge

Any enterprise CEO really ought to be able to ask a question that involves connecting data across the organization, be able to run a company effectively, and especially to be able to respond to unexpected events. Most organizations are missing this ability to connect all the data together.

—Tim Berners Lee

Today, data surrounds us at all times. We are living in what some have called the Data Deluge.1 Everything is data. There’s even data about data, hence the term metadata. And data is anything but static; it’s becoming bigger and more dynamic all the time. The notion of data is somewhat different and much more nuanced today than it was a decade ago, and it’s certainly much larger.

Powerful statements like these might give many readers pause, scare some others, and conjure up images of The Matrix. That’s understandable, but the sooner that executives and industry leaders realize this, the quicker they’ll be able to harness the power of Big Data and see its benefits. As a starting point, we must explore the very concept of data in greater depth—and a little history is in order. If we want to understand where we are now and where we are going, we have to know how we got here.

This chapter discusses the evolution of data in the enterprise. It provides an overview of the types of data that organizations have at their disposal today. It answers questions like these: How did we arrive at the Big Data world? What does this new world look like? We ...

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