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It’s tough to pick up a publication today without seeing something about big data. Everyone is talking about it, and there are some very good reasons for that. In fact, the equation is pretty simple, and goes like this: Data when processed becomes information, information when analyzed becomes knowledge, and knowledge when applied becomes intelligence.
From a business perspective, as more and more data is collected and works its way through the evolutionary process I just identified, the opportunity exists to generate intelligence, that when acted upon, can improve critical measures of success for every organization. Even knowing this, though, we should forget about big data. Why? It’s about to undergo a significant change.
Advances in multiple areas of technology are driving this transformation. The primary drivers are sensor technology, wearable computing, vehicles as a computing platform, and the Internet of Things (IoT). That is why you need to forget about big data: It is huge data. Smart data. Think about how all of this combines to create a substantial amount of new data that will rapidly move through the evolutionary process into action-oriented, near-real-time decision influence systems.
Data is the raw material necessary for organizations to understand what is happening and respond appropriately, and it’s creating new and unique opportunities for organizations. It is finally becoming the strategic asset that was envisioned in the early stages of the Internet.
However, that doesn’t mean there are no challenges. The collection of all this data has some concerned. First, there are the concerns being expressed by individuals over privacy, and their concerns are certainly well founded. One recent research initiative looked at all the data about an individual including social media activity. They were able to forecast with a high degree of accuracy where that individual would be and what they would be doing in a specified period of time and at a specific location. You can understand the concern.
Secondly, the huge data repositories that will result in the emerging era of technological advancement will hold tremendous value for organizations. Think about it this way: As the value of the data increases, it’s a sure bet it will become a target for thieves.
Nonetheless, it’s already happening. Cisco calls it “The Zettabyte Era,” where a zettabyte equals 1 trillion gigabytes. One executive (off the record) recently expressed concerns to me that given the growth in the data his organization generates, over 80 percent of his technology budget will be consumed by storage in 2018. He went on to say, “I got to put it somewhere!” So forget big data, because it’s a misnomer; it’s actually huge data. And there is one clear winner in all of this — the data storage industry.
Kevin Coleman is the former chief strategist at Netscape. Kevin speaks regularly on strategy, innovation, and creativity, and has spoken at some of the world’s most prestigious organizations, including the United Nations, Congress, at U.S. Strategic Command, and before multiple Fortune 500 organizations.
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