What does this mean in context? Every hour, Walmart handles 1 million transactions, feeding a database of 2.5 petabytes, which is almost 170 times the data in the Library of Congress. The entire collection of the junk delivered by the U.S. Postal Service in one year is equal to 5 petabytes, while Google processes that amount of data in just one hour. The total amount of information in existence is estimated at a little over something called a zettabyte, yet the U.S. Office of Weights and Measures has coined a term for the amount of data too big to yet imagine – a yottabyte.

While corporations across all industries globally are struggling with how to retain, aggregate and analyze this mounting volume of what the industry refers to as big data, it also provides a unique opportunity for innovative startups that recognize the business prospects big data presents. Interactivity is driving big data, with people and machines both consuming and creating it. Digital companies focused on becoming good at aggregating and analyzing the data created by the end users of their product, who then provide their customers with solid insights taken from that data are at a distinct competitive advantage over others in the marketplace. Big data is not just unlocking new information but new sources of economic and business value.

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