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What is Big Data?

By Richard Sharpe | 09/06/2013 | 12:41 PM | Categories: Web/Tech, Weblogs


We all are being constantly exposed to articles, presentations and sales pitches that have a reference to “Big Data.” Is it hype, is it real? What does Big Data mean to you and your company? DC Velocity has asked that I lead a discussion through a new blog called “Big Data, Big Deal.” My approach to writing this blog will be to author view points that hopefully offer insights and clarity into the subject. Orientations will often have a supply chain perspective given that many readers of DC Velocity are supply chain professionals. We hope you find the blog informative and welcome your comments.

As the first blog post, it is only fitting to start with our definition of Big Data. After chairing eyefortransport’s Big Data Summit in June, I discovered that there is still a lot of confusion about the context and application of Big Data. Let’s start by using a common set of characteristics often referred to as the 4 V’s:

Volume: overwhelming amount of data; Veracity: trouble trusting the data as number of sources grows

Velocity: faster generation of data; Variety: any type of data such as text, sensors, activities, etc.

More information can be found on the 4 V’s by simply searching the web but here is one good reference: http://www.good.is/posts/infographic-the-four-v-s-of-big-data 

However, I believe that more clarity needs to be offered, especially as it relates to Big Data and the supply chain. Today’s global supply chains are far more efficient than ever before partially due to the utilization of advanced systems that generate and manage transactions from customer demand signals all the way back to the initial sourcing or manufacturing of products (Source, Make, Deliver, Return).

Clearly the 4 V’s are at work.  However, there is an amazing opportunity to harness these Intra and Inter Enterprise transactions to gain insights and knowledge from structured data silos and unstructured data sources that can be used to directly support company centric priorities.  I often hear the argument that “our company has a long way to go to even manage the data we have today”.  But it boils down to this. Taking advantage of advances in technology and methodologies to gain actionable insights from Big Data will drive significant competitive advantage.

So, what’s the big deal about Big Data? Mastering Big Data will directly enhance a company’s capability to increase the generation and protection of operating profits and competitive advantage.

Not something you think your company can do today?  Let me close with this quote:  “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won”- Winston Churchill.

We would appreciate hearing your thoughts and comments.  All the best, Richard



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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Richard Sharpe

Richard Sharpe

Richard Sharpe is CEO of Competitive Insights, LLC (CI), a founding officer of the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) and designated by DC Velocity as a Rainmaker in the industry. For the last 25 years, Richard has been passionate about driving business value through the adoption of process and technology innovations. His current focus is to support CI's mission to enable companies to gain maximum value through specific, precise and actionable insights across the organization for smarter growth. CI delivers Enterprise Profit Insights (EPI) solutions that enable cross-functional users to increase and protect profitability. Prior to his current role, Richard was President of CAPS Logistics, the forerunner of supply chain optimization. Richard is a frequent speaker at national conferences and leading academic institutions. His current focus is to challenge executives to improve their company's competitive position by turning enterprise wide data from a liability to an asset through the use of applied business analytics.


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