Updated for 2018: The five Vs of big data: how can they help your business?

by XSI on February 15, 2017

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In your business, you probably utilise just a fraction of the data you have in storage. There are currently 2.5 petabytes of data generated on a daily basis, which adds to the evergrowing magnitude of 2.7 zettabytes current sitting in data warehouses and silos across the world.

As you continue to accumulate data, you may feel as though you’re going through an information overload. But fear not, big data is a beast you can tame, you just need to put your mind to the task.

It’s all about having the right tools to tackle storage, analysis, and visualisation. Once you have the first building blocks cemented in place, you’ll have the capacity to begin data extraction from all your incoming datasets.

However, if you feel that your business hasn’t been able to harness the power of this technology, then getting to grips with the five Vs of big data could be the first step towards your business becoming a big data aficionado.

If you’re in the first stages of big data implementation, you’ll soon face the realisation that your business is going to need more storage. As you begin to unleash the power of big data, you’ll discover the data streams connected to your business will grow exponentially, leading to more statistical processes and the influx of new information.

This sharp increase in volume can cause your organisation significant difficulties if you haven’t planned correctly, as each new data set will place considerable strain on your current storage facility.

If you run a business, or work closely with your big data team, you should be aware that every process creates some form of data, and if you weren’t, well you’re in for quite a shock. Customer transactions, website visits, and IoT devices all create datasets that your business will need to be stored and analysed for future use.

In the current meta of small data, database management systems work to organise all of your datasets efficiently. However, the introduction of big data has slowly seen these methods become defunct. Now, to cope with increased data streams, businesses have begun to invest in off-premise storage facilities and new network infrastructure.

The need for extra storage is one of the major issues your business will encounter when introducing big data practices and principles. Not all data will need to undergo strategic analysis, or will provide you with any required information. But if you fail to devise any analytical procedures, you’ll face the prospect of a data backlog.

If you decide to open up your business to voluminous amounts of data, in the long-run you’ll have increased amounts of data to analyse and delve into for insight. Our advice with data of this scale is to invest in new storage.

Traditional methods are slowly demonstrating that they’re unable to cope with these new amounts of additional data, so although you may believe your business doesn’t warrant this initial investment for expansion, you’ll soon see it does.

If you’re of the view that your business will find it difficult to cope with the volume of data you’re accruing, the fact that the speed will also increase probably sounds like a daunting prospect. However, to take full advantage of big data implementation, it’s no longer just about how much information you collect, it also comes down to how fast you can use the data to make business decisions.

Traditionally, an organisation would have to wait for data to be analysed and interpreted. But now, with the increased velocity of incoming data, and the pace at which it undergoes analysis, this is no longer the case.

Your business will receive data feeds from numerous avenues, many of these data streams will arise from real-time processes that are undertaken by your company, or happen in conjunction with services and products you offer.

Following the collection of this data, your business will be able to gain immediate insight into customers and take prompt action in the event of cybersecurity threats.

One of the primary areas to take advantage of the velocity data collection is the financial sector, as the increase in speed has led to significant advancements in cybersecurity protocols. By allowing immediate access to a customers transaction, analytical procedures can instantly detect if fraudulent activity has taken place.

Following the discovery of this activity and the underlying threat, a data security team will run security algorithms across historical datasets and incoming data streams to ensure the risk is completely shut down, leading to system safety.

They say variety is the spice of life, and with the advent of data streams now open to your business, it’ll cause a fundamental shift in the way you acquire and analyse data.

Your business will already source data in a number of ways. But with the addition of new devices, and the substantial amount of new streams they’ll open up, your business will have the ability to extract more-profound meaning from the information you collect, which will allow you to provide better details and visualisations to stakeholders.

Historically, information collected by a business sat in a well-structured format. Now, with the use of big data becoming standard practice, it’s unstructured data that is fast becoming the norm in the corporate world.

As you begin to sift through the vast volume and varieties of information that your business has accumulated, you’ll see in numerous different forms. One of the first things you will notice is that only 10% of your businesses data is intelligible to the naked eye. The remaining 90% will need a team of data engineers to compile the data into a database before it undergoes analysis by data scientists, who can begin to extract meaning from the data.

Unfortunately, in the world of big data, this lack of structure is fast becoming the norm, so if you’re looking to expand your use of big data, it’s something you’ll have to become more accustomed too. But, with the right analytical set up in place, these new varieties of data can increase your business growth, allowing for the movement into what was previously uncharted territory.

Using big data, and the analytics it provides, to improve company performance should be a crucial part of your business strategy. But to ultimately take advantage of this practice, your data should be pinpoint accurate. This allows you to have complete trust in what your business collects, and total reliability in every incoming data source.

Volume, velocity, and variety will aid the expansion and progression of your business, and once the collected data has undergone analysis, it will open up new development pathways. However, for this analytical process to be successful, the information your business acquires must be precise.

Big data will provide your business with the chance to accumulate information from places you never thought possible. But, if the data isn’t accurate or timely, it won’t matter what you decide to do with it.

“The old axiom, garbage in, garbage out, has never been truer than in the age of big data,” says Randal Scott King, managing partner of Brilliant Data.

“Due to this, organisations have begun to implement data governance programs,” he adds. “These are based on the premise that data is an asset and needs the same kind of governance and controls that other assets like cash and real estate are subject to.”

To enable your business to get the most out of your data, you should have total confidence in its origin, and the use of a data governance plan is the first step towards this.

Due to the amount of data that your business will amass, introducing a data governance strategy during the early stages of big data implementation will offer a form of accountability for any inauspicious results that occur if the quality of the data is weak.

Conventionally, in a business scenario, data should be viewed as ultra-reliable, featuring the information that will allow you to make quick and confident decisions. However, with increased data streams, the quality of data can decrease and lack validity, which can hinder the decision-making process.

When using a data governance strategy, it may require a cultural shift in your business, as it needs the data team and regular members of staff to work closely alongside each other during the data collection process.

For these practices to roll along smoothly, your business may need to employ a data steward who will ensure all guidelines are enforced during collection, prevent and solve issues with data, and will recommend improvements to the current strategy while also keeping it up to date.

If you have a data governance plan in place but are still unsure which streams of data can cause irregularity in the analysis process, you’ll benefit from studying the table below.

Data Source What causes untrustworthy data?
Lineage of data Your business will collect data from numerous different sources. However, if one of those sources is inaccurate, or you’re unable to identify the lineage of the data, it can ultimately lead to unverified data, as the storage and collection origin is unknown.
Abnormalities Throughout the data collection period, when acquiring data from similar datasets, you would expect the results they identify to be almost identical. However, abnormalities occur when two elements of the same data report massively different results.
Cybersecurity Threats The data stored in your business will undergo constant change and modification. These changes can open up avenues for cybersecurity threats to break into network infrastructure, so it’s essential your company keeps on top of its security protocols.
Working with historical data As your business begins to collect copious amounts of data, you will need to ensure that the data you’re using for analysis is not out of date. Although you may feel that all the information you collect is relevant, as your analysis processes improve, you may begin to learn that real-time data can add more value than historical data.
Human Input Humans aren’t perfect, so when inputting data into a form or making a purchase on your website, they may select the wrong option or mistype a letter. Unfortunately, as a business, this is something you won’t be able to avoid.

Every decision made by your business should be data-driven. However, these decisions won’t just come down to the data itself. They will form from how your company uses the information to gain the most intrinsic value, allowing you to make positive advancements.

Adapting data to suit your business needs will enable you to unlock the hidden potential within the information you’ve collected, which means you will get the most value out of your data.

To get the most from your data, we recommended that you have a big data team in place that can help you safely journey through all five Vs, including this one.

Following the placement of your team of experts, or the beginning of the analysis process if you can skip the step above, your data will undergo scrutinisation before it’s formulated into reports by a visualisation expert. Doing so will ensure all members of your business can gain the total amount of value from each dataset

However, to complete these detailed reports that signify data value, it doesn’t always come down to the amount of data you collect. Tamara McCleary, CEO of Thulium, tells us that the most value comes from the ability to extract timely insights in real time. “The value contained within data has never been about quantity, but rather the quality of data. Artificial intelligence paired with machine learning is enabling organisations to harness the power of insight from data in real time, which means today is the slowest day we’ll ever experience.”

When you delve deeper into the types of data your business will collect, and the value each dataset can provide, you’ll begin to identify that each data type will offer a different route through which you can perform strategic analysis and supply the results you’ll need to progress and grow.

Structured data, once normalised, will be cleansed and have any redundant information removed, it will be primed to offer you the information you require, and will probably already hold the answers to the questions your business is asking.

Unstructured data is the complete opposite; the value of this data type comes from the unknown patterns that analysis can discover. These newly unearthed benchmarks and frameworks can identify business issues, hidden market trends, or how a customer feels towards your business.

Whichever way you choose to formulate your data, it’s all about retaining the right information and ultimately gaining the most value out of your data to obtain business growth and optimisation.

Which V will offer the most to your business?

You may be of the opinion that all five Vs of big data can add an extra dimension to your business, improve your performance, and offer greater insight. However, it’s the final V that will provide the most return to your business, and “it’s probably the only V that stakeholders care about,” says Bill Schmarzo, CTO of Dell Global Services.

“Not all Vs of big data are created equally; four of the five Vs of big data (volume, velocity, variety, veracity) are purely enablers,” he adds. “Achieving value requires an understanding of what the organisation is trying to accomplish in its business initiatives, and a thorough understanding of these initiatives is key before you can leverage volume, velocity, variety, and veracity to achieve value.”

To get the most out of your big data supply, you will need to partner volume, velocity, variety and veracity successfully with value. This can be a time-consuming process if you’re looking to extract all meaningful information from your data. But if you’ve increased your business big data capabilities to cope with this process, then the value you’ll gain from each dataset will be dramatically increased.

Partner volume with value

Previously, to gain the most intrinsic value from your business data, your big data team would need to carry out sampling on specific datasets. But now, thanks to the volume of information provided by big data and the techniques required to manage this, your company should have the capability to perform analysis on data collected in real time.

The more data you collect in your business, the more insight you can offer to shareholders, which should speed up the decision-making process, lead to improved customer relationships, and more monetary value gained from your data.

Partner velocity with value

Modern data collection is all about the need for speed. The faster you can inject data into your business, the faster the analysis process can take place, meaning that data collected in real time can be used alongside historical data for a faster decision-making process.

Partner variety with value

Structured and unstructured data of all types will be flowing into your business, but to gain the most value from these different varieties, it’s all about having the right data management plan in place.

The numerous varieties of data you collect allow your business to become more diverse. As during the collection process, you will no longer encounter just one specific stream for each customer or client.

When successfully collected, these different varieties of data can be amalgamated together to form one large dataset, which your business can use to create customer journey maps, improve engagement and increase retention.

Partner veracity with value

It’s crucial when presenting your data that you have complete confidence in what’s on the page in front of you. When showcasing the findings in your data to shareholders, it could mean the difference between new investment or the dismissal of your conclusions.

While it may not be an essential task to dot the i’s and cross the t’s in the early stages of data conceptualisation, the further you move into the analysis and visualisation process, the more people will see the data you have collected. The added trust in your data will allow for better differentiation, and provide the chance to show stakeholders how you can gain an edge over your competitors.

If you decide to push ahead with your implementation, detailed knowledge of how to get the most value of your data will help impress shareholders, lead to increased productivity and better business growth.


Is the fate of your big data collection in jeopardy? Are you struggling to suppress the ever-growing force that cascades information into your storage silos? Fear not, the data rangers are on hand, with the powers to harness your data flow, allowing you to get the most value out of your fact and figures, while accelerating your acquisition and analysis processes. 

For more tips on how to get the most of out big data for your business, subscribe to the Churchill Frank blog.

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