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Volume, velocity, and variety: Understanding the three V's of big data

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Video: How to build a corporate culture that's ready to embrace big data

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for 2018.

We practitioners of the technological arts have a tendency to use specialized jargon. That's not unusual. Most guilds, priesthoods, and professions have had their own style of communication, either for convenience or to establish a sense of exclusivity. In technology, we also tend to attach very simple buzzwords to very complex topics, and then expect the rest of the world to go along for the ride.

Take, for example, the tag team of "cloud" and "big data." The term "cloud" came about because systems engineers used to draw network diagrams of local area networks. Between the diagrams of LANs, we'd draw a cloud-like jumble meant to refer to, pretty much, "the undefined stuff in between." Of course, the Internet became the ultimate undefined stuff in between, and the cloud became The Cloud.

TechRepublic: For evidence of big data success, look no further than machine learning[1]

To Uncle Steve, Aunt Becky, and Janice in Accounting, "The Cloud" means the place where you store your photos and other stuff. Many people don't really know that "cloud" is a shorthand, and the reality of the cloud is the growth of almost unimaginably huge data centers holding vast quantities of information.

Big data is another one of those shorthand words, but this is one that Janice in Accounting, Jack in Marketing, and Bob on the board really do need to understand. Not only can big data answer big questions and open new doors to opportunity, your competitors are almost undoubtedly using big data for their own competitive advantage.

That, of course,

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