Big data deluge: New challenges for collaboration

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When we talk about big data, we often focus on the stress of storage costs on IT budgets, or on the need for faster and more powerful analytics. But big data also has implications for collaboration. Whether we’re collaborating for science, marketing, manufacturing, or construction -- where BIM (Building Information Modeling) files average over 50 MB and can range up to 1 GB in size -- digital files keep getting bigger, and we keep producing more of them. Take that 20-MB PowerPoint presentation. It’s usually not just one file. To create it, we typically email versions to multiple people, who save the original and create new versions which they then send back out to the team. The final 20-MB deck might be only the tip of a 200- or 400-MB iceberg. There are many other reasons why collaborating via email is inefficient. The loss of control over a proliferating number of files, the glutting of file systems with data debris, and the choking of email servers with gigantic files all make it harder to produce high-quality work on tight deadlines. Then there is the increased risk of inadvertently exposing sensitive or regulated information.

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