Yes, we have all heard about the 3 V's of big data by now. Or the 4 V's or
possibly 5 V's, depending on who you ask. However, I would argue the value of
data isn't necessarily tied to the "volume" part of big data (unless of course
you are a storage vendor, and then the value is all about volume and storage).
Everyone else should be focused on how best to monetize complex data. Obviously, there can be a relationship between complex data and big data but let's define complex data so we can talk about solving business problems. Complex data is found in all industries including oil and gas as well as electric utilities. Whether you are talking about drilling for gas or monitoring the electric grid or "smart grid" the data coming off the sensors for one rig or one section of a grid may not meet the "volume" requirements of big data. However, it does meet the criteria of variety: multivariant, multivariate, multidimensional, and stochastic (MMMS) - it really doesn't get more complex than this type of data. It also meets the velocity criteria since it needs to be analyzed in near real-time in order to provide the operators with feedback to help drill an optimal well or to detect problems in the grid to better avoid potential power outages.
The data, and the use of the data, is complex because you need to continuously
provide input into a variety of different predictive models (all of which
interact or impact each other) in order to provide the best possible well to be
drilled from both a quality and speed perspective or to ensure power remains on,
safe, and as reliable as possible.
This type of analysis was really not possible until recently, when new technologies in both hardware, software, and the ability to add more sensors on all parts of a drilling rig or electric grid and to collect this data efficiently. We now have the capability of building the necessary system to allow for near real-time feedback to drilling operators.
As a matter of fact, I am currently working with others to develop a system combining event stream processing and a variety of advanced analytic capabilities to do just what I described.