I always thought the "Big Data" topic was a huge, inunderstandable process of summonig black holes using resources from a bunch of dark wizards. When I started getting sth. to do with it, I was surprised what a fuckin' low-end report it actually was.
In fact, you're just denormalizing data from your well structured relational database, put it into a large colon seperated file and execute a python script that runs inside a virtual machine called "cloud service" with a lot of power, hosted by another company, plots graphs of two propably relying columns or calculated values from those columns and brings you an .html or .md as a result.
Wow. I'm really impressed.
Basically, you could run a sql query within your database without that denormalizing stuff and get the results you want to visualize. All you need to initiate this process is someone that brings some motivation to find correlating data to improve your efficiency and/or output quality. But then you can't add "Big Data" and "Cloud Computing" to your Xing experiences.