The Emergence of Big Data

The term “Big Data” is no longer confined to the foreign vernacular of scientists, technologists and geeks. It has now become part of mainstream media and popular culture, pervading the spectrum from McKinsey global studies to Dilbert commentaries.

The Gartner “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” tracks emerging technologies with particularly high levels of hype, or the potential for significant impact. The hype cycle progresses from the emergence of the innovation, through a “peak of inflated expectations”, disillusionment, enlightenment, and finally matures at a “plateau of productivity”. While Big Data was considered to have just passed the hype peak in 2014, its absence from the 2015 edition is either a glaring oversight by Gartner analysts, or a conviction that Big Data is already delivering on the hype, and is here to stay. Evidence suggests the latter.

However its recency gives rise to varied misconceptions about what Big Data really is, and the implications for Business. In this introduction to the cover story, we provide a brief overview of the nature and phenomenal growth of Big Data. The remaining articles in this special edition provide excellent cross-cutting coverage of varied applications of Big Data and Analytics in business.

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