“Big Data” is the term used for the gathering and analysis of immense exploitable datasets of digital information. Big Data is characterised by its great volume, variety and velocity, and is set to play a crucial role across the spectrum of the businesses in the future.

Big Data can be personal data relating to the behaviour of individuals or non-personal data, for example, information about the weather. Information is collected from a variety of devices and sources, such as internet search engines, credit card purchases and social media posts. The analysis of Big Data can be used to observe trends or changes in behaviour, which have the potential to be commercially valuable.

Many industries have already started to take advantage of the benefits of Big Data. The insurance business is a key sector that will increasingly profit from the use of Big Data to impact the pricing of vehicle, home, life and health insurance policies. The banking sector, airline industry and the healthcare field have also used Big Data to innovate and drive forward new ideas; all good examples of how big data is becoming a key basis of competition, prompting growth and modernisation in every sector, not only within technology.

As the collection and use of big data evolves, so difficulties arise between balancing the use of data for innovation and the need to protect the rights of individuals. The limitless amount of data and its huge potential means that data law is emerging as an area in its own right alongside existing intellectual property, contract and regulatory laws. The existing laws and data protection policies will all need to be addressed and revised as businesses look ahead to a Big Data world.