At its core big data is about predicting the future.
By analyzing huge data sets relating to the world around us, data scientists are predicting what to expect next based on what’s happened in the past. They are predicting crime patterns in LA, stock market movements on Wall Street, advertising effectiveness on Madison Avenue, genetic coding at UCLA, and the structure of the universe through radio telescopes around the world.
To learn more about big data and prediction see here and here. Or watch this promotional video from the Smarter Planet people at IBM: