Big Data is a buzzword. It has been buzzing vehemently since 2011 and if measured on the amount of headlines mentions, its popularity curve has been nothing but steep.
Sandy Pentland, Director of MIT Media Lab, even declared a new era. "This is going to be the decade of data. The revolution that will come from data is going to dwarf the revolution that came from the internet."
But is the fuss about the buzz justified?
The IDC predicts that the market for Big Data investments will grow from $16.55 billion in 2014 to roughly $41.52 billion in 2018 – a compound annual growth rate of 26.24%.
Also, since 1992, the world has seen a 20 million fold increase in the amount of data transferred per day.
Just to make it a little more tangible:
Every minute …
- Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content.
- Twitter users tweet nearly 300,000 times.
- Instagram users post nearly 220,000 new photos.
- YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video content.
- Apple users download nearly 50,000 apps.
- Email users send over 200 million messages.
- Amazon generates over $80,000 in online sales.
Big Data conquers all sectors
A common mistake by Big Data rookies is assuming the accumulation and potential of it is primarily to be found in the colorful world of social media and communication. However, the takeaways for any business sector, for politics, finance services, the real estate market, and also healthcare are tremendous.
Beyond improving profits and cutting down on wasted overhead, Big Data in healthcare is being used to predict epidemics, cure disease, improve quality of life and avoid preventable deaths.
Take fitness apps on your smartphone for example. Agreed, it doesn’t sound like a game-changer, but with apps enabling people to use their phones as everything from pedometers to measure how far you walk in a day, to calorie counters helping you plan your diet, millions of people are now using mobile technology to live healthier lifestyles. With obesity being a huge factor of illnesses, this might already be affecting the status quo.
In the near future, you might also be sharing this data with your doctor who will use it as part of his or her diagnostic toolbox. Even if there’s nothing wrong with you, access to huge, ever growing databases of information about the state of the health of the general public will allow problems to be spotted even before they occur. Economically, this will save welfare systems a lot of money, but it will just as much save people a lot of pain.
On a different scale, Big Data can help businesses make better, more informed decisions. Companies such as datapine offer software that facilitates the analysis and display of performance data making "complex functionalities available to non-technical persons”, as they put it on their website.
No one wants to get left behind
According to a study jointly produced by CapGemini and EMC, 70% of enterprises will increase their investments in Big Data over the next three years. The trend’s not for everyone though. Critics already talk of a Big Data FOMO, meaning that the race is driven by the fear of being left behind, fueling the growth of data startups and interest in Big Data software, while most marketers and agencies still don’t fully understand how to maximize these data investments or how to make them a utility to their efforts.
Also, like with any rapidly growing market, success is accompanied by a number of new challenges. Questions of data security and regulation are already vividly being discussed in the public sphere and most businesses will first have to make significant IT investments before even being able to play along.
Nevertheless, the tremendous potential that still lies untapped in mountains of 1s and 0s remains unquestioned.
The digital universe continues to expand, evolve and therefore change continuously. The most successful Big Data companies will be the ones who strive to do the same: Experiment, innovate and anticipate their customers growing needs. For investors who want to get in on this long-term trend, these are the type of companies to keep an eye on.