Data and Databases

This chapter covers the concepts of data and databases. Businesses are becoming more and more "data-driven"; understanding how data is collected, stored, and managed is essential for anyone wanting to succeed in business. Pay special attention to the sections on data warehouses and data mining, as they provide examples of how companies use data strategically.

Big Data

Almost all software programs require data to do anything useful. For example, if you are editing a document in a word processor such as Microsoft Word, the document you are working on is the data. The word-processing software can manipulate the data: create a new document, duplicate a document, or modify a document. Some other examples of data are: an MP3 music file, a video file, a spreadsheet, a web page, a social media post, and an e-book.

Recently, big data has been capturing the attention of all types of organizations. The term refers to such massively large data sets that conventional data processing technologies do not have sufficient power to analyze them. For example, Walmart must process millions customer transactions every hour across the world. Storing and analyzing that much data is beyond the power of traditional data management tools. Understanding and developing the best tools and techniques to manage and analyze these large data sets are a problem that governments and businesses alike are trying to solve.