Most companies are swimming in more data than they know what to do with. Unfortunately, too many of them associate that drowning phenomenon with big data itself. Technologically, big data is a very specific thing--the marriage of structured data (your company's proprietary information) with unstructured data (public sources such as social media streams and government feeds).
When you overlay unstructured data on top of structured data and use analytics software to visualize it, you can get insights that were never possible before--predict product sales, better target customers, discover new markets, etc. 
 By Jason Hiner for ZDNet