Project Management

Uncovering Big Data

Patti Gilchrist, PMP, is a Senior Technical Manager with more than 20 years of IT experience. Visit her website at

Big Data has become the latest craze within the IT community, revolutionizing business intelligence capabilities. And although it would be difficult to find a recent article that does not reference this latest trend, what is it really--and how will it impact the project management community?

Big data in simplistic terms is often thought of as large volumes of data. But organizations have been managing large-scale data for years, long before these new technologies emerged on the scene. Excessively large amounts of data in and of itself do not necessarily mean big data. So to fully understand what it is, its impacts and how big data projects are different than other IT projects, a broader definition is required. Big data can be thought of in terms of three Vs: volume, velocity and variety. And some expand the definition further to include veracity and value as well.

When thinking about big data, it’s not just about the large volume. The rate of change of the data is just as important and must be taken into account. For a large data set that doesn’t change very often, analysis that takes days to complete may be acceptable. However, if the data is changing at a high rate of speed, faster processing time becomes a much more critical requirement. Also, one must consider the diverse data sources to integrate. Dealing with a variety of structured and unstructured…

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