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Where did big data come from and where are companies going with it?

Paul Newman Archive

In today's business environment, it might be difficult to remember a time when big data didn't exist. The analytics strategy has gained attention across industries as a way to harness information that already exists and  -  after verifying data quality - use it to come up with better business insights. Despite the vast interest in big data, there is still widespread confusion about what exactly the term means and how the tactics work. Apparently, the uncertainty also applies to its origins, according to The New York Times. 

There are many people who claim to be the first to coin the phrase, "big data," dating back to the late 80s and early 90s, the source adds. However, it's hard to pinpoint exactly when big data came to life in its current meaning.

One promising contender is Erik Larson, who wrote an article for The Washington Post in 1989 in which he states that "The keepers of big data say they do it for the consumer's benefit. But data have a way of being used for purposes other than originally intended," when discussing direct marketing campaigns, the media outlet adds. 

Uncertainty about the birth of big data and its exact meaning don't seem to be holding today's companies back. A survey from NewVantage Partners found that 85 percent of companies say they already have a big data plan taking place or have plans to implement one in the future. 

If firms don't get on the big data bandwagon, Harvard Business Review warns that they could quickly fall behind competitors.