Big data has tremendous power, but it can be hard to explain the direct and tangible benefits of that power (“Hadoop cluster” is not a phrase for casual conversation).
Steve Lohr offers a nice translation of big data in his article, “Dickens, Austen and Twain, Through a Digital Lens“:
At this stage, this kind of digital analysis is mostly an intriguing sign that Big Data technology is steadily pushing beyond the Internet industry and scientific research into seemingly foreign fields like the social sciences and the humanities. The new tools of discovery provide a fresh look at culture, much as the microscope gave us a closer look at the subtleties of life and the telescope opened the way to faraway galaxies. [Emphasis added]