Red Robot’s Jargon article series: Number 3 – Big Data

Red Robot’s Jargon article series: Number 3 – Big Data

The third instalment of our jargon article series covers Big Data.


Big Data is a term for a collection of data from traditional & digital sources that is too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data processing applications. Big Data has been defined as being three dimensional; high volume, high velocity and high variety known as the 3V model.

The way we live our digital lives means there is more and more data available. Every social media exchange and digital interaction produces it. The volume of data and the speed at which it accumulates means traditional database & software applications simply don’t have the processing capacity to deal with it. Data collects more rapidly due to the sheer abundance of relatively cheap devices that can capture data including mobile devices, software logs, cameras and RFID.


We always want to analyse data because it can help us gain valuable insight on trends, issues, potential areas to exploit and things we need to deal with so we cannot ignore the data just because what we used to use to analyse it isn’t really fit for purpose anymore; so what do we do about it? The answer is a variety of options, the most popular are: –

  • Developing new techniques for analysing data like A/B testing and machine learning
  • Big Data technologies like cloud computing and business intelligence
  • Visualisation – clever ways of interpreting data through graphics, charts and other displays.

These all give us the tools to help us navigate the sheer volume and variety of data we collect.


Today we use big data for all sorts of applications – I’m a big football fan and when watching or listening to football I hear stats about how a player has made the second most interceptions in the league or a table showing which players have the best pass percentage completion ratings or a pitch map showing where and how many times a player has touched the ball. Goalkeepers now know where a player has aimed his last 5 penalties through an infographic on their iPad. This is all big Data at work. Even in training, football players wear trackers so managers can evaluate how much running a player is doing and some even use it to analyse a players health – one coach said he could tell a player was hiding a foot injury from the manager & coaches after analysing his gait after a training session, another said he could now use the technology to predict when a player would contract a virus or cold.


The above is just for football – helping players to keep fitter and allowing them and their managers to make more informed decisions about selection and in game decision making. Imagine how our health service, military, government, law enforcement, educational establishments and of course businesses can utilise the power of big data to improve services, society and life.