But this is just the beginning.
Data is the oil of the internet
Today, data is just like oil – a valuable commodity. The potential of digital data in the 21st Century is still largely untapped, comparable to the world’s reserves of oil at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Most organizations—from the federal government to small businesses couldn’t function without digital data.
But this is just the beginning. According to one estimate, the digital universe is doubling in size every two years and by 2020 is projected to reach 44 trillion gigabytes. Businesses struggling to keep up with this flood of information are investing heavily in huge data depositories and data analysis algorithms, the latter made possible by AI-assisted machine learning.
Why so much data?
Increasingly powerful digital devices–including smartphones, computer-assisted cars, Internet-connected home appliances, and Fitbit devices receive and transmit staggering amounts of data. Looking into the near future, it’s estimated that a fully autonomous self-driving car will generate 100 gigabytes of data a second.
Everything we do creates a digital trail. New algorithms that track our data are continually under development, not just to improve micro-level marketing messaging, but also to boost the accuracy of disease diagnosis, refine systems maintenance, and advance customer retention rates. –In fact, data has become so important that Industrial giants like GE and Siemens now brand themselves as data management firms.
Data Infrastructure Drives Profits
By any fair assessment, IT departments and data infrastructures are revenue-driving profit centers. Sharing data about products and customers greatly expands opportunities to sell, expand one’s customer base, and create new products and services.
As big data analysis techniques improve, companies will gain a clearer understanding of emerging trends and ‘what if’ probabilities for different contingencies. Other benefits include operating cost savings, increased production, and improved safety.
Reliable data is indispensable to decision making
Big data techniques can potentially test, measure, and improve almost anything. This includes gaining insight into previously untestable propositions. For example, before investing in new product development these tools can give us a much better idea of its viability. And if something isn’t working, you can get a more accurate idea of how much it would cost to fix it.
In my next installment, I’ll outline key differences between modern-day tech giants like Facebook and Google when compared with the giant monopolistic industrial corporations of the early 20th century.