No matter where you look, the numbers on big data are staggering. Among estimates of its potential benefits are productivity-led savings: $300 billion a year for the US healthcare industry; €250 billion for the European public sector; a 60 percent potential increase in retailers’ operating margins; and $600 billion in economic surplus for services enabled by personal-location data. However, these are just the early calculations coming in from a few sectors; they could well go higher.

So, What Exactly Is Big Data?

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