Understanding the 3 Vs of Big Data – Volume, Velocity and Variety

  • Written By WHISHWORKS
  • 08/09/2017

Every business, big or small, is managing a considerable amount of data generated through its various data points and business processes. At times, businesses are able to handle these data using excel sheets, access databases or other similar tools. However, when data cannot fit into such tools, and human error instances increase above acceptable limits due to intensive manual processing, it is time to think about Big Data and analytics.

In this article, we are talking about how Big Data can be defined using the famous 3 Vs – Volume, Velocity and Variety.


Within the Social Media space for example, Volume refers to the amount of data generated through websites, portals and online applications. Especially for B2C companies, Volume encompasses the available data that are out there and need to be assessed for relevance. Consider the following -Facebook has 2 billion users, Youtube 1 billion users, Twitter 350 million users and Instagram 700 million users. Every day, these users contribute to billions of images, posts, videos, tweets etc. You can now imagine the insanely large amount -or Volume- of data that is generated every minute and every hour.  


With Velocity we refer to the speed with which data are being generated. Staying with our social media example, every day 900 million photos are uploaded on Facebook, 500 million tweets are posted on Twitter, 0.4 million hours of video are uploaded on Youtube and 3.5 billion searches are performed in Google. This is like a nuclear data explosion. Big Data helps the company to hold this explosion, accept the incoming flow of data and at the same time process it fast so that it does not create bottlenecks.


Variety in Big Data refers to all the structured and unstructured data that has the possibility of getting generated either by humans or by machines. The most commonly added data are structured -texts, tweets, pictures & videos. However, unstructured data like emails, voicemails, hand-written text, ECG reading, audio recordings etc, are also important elements under Variety. Variety is all about the ability to classify the incoming data into various categories.

The 3 Vs of Big Data

So why Big Data is needed anyway?

Data are generated incessantly containing nuggets of valuable insight, critical for business success. The challenge is how to analyse and process these data in order to derive those nuggets of information set to strengthen business strategy, efficiency and performance -be it customer feedback, market trends, demand for a product or competitor activity. Big Data solutions help companies make sense out of random information, become proactive and start setting the pace instead of continuously putting out fires and following competition.

 If you would like to find out more about how Big Data could help you make the most out of your current infrastructure while enabling you to open your digital horizons, do give us a call at +44 (0)203 475 7980 or email us at marketing@whishworks.com

Other useful links:

Big Data Consulting Services

Machine Learning for Competitive Intelligence

Data & Analytics

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