Data is the New Oil. It isn’t surprising that we are awash with data. What is shocking is the volume of data, as the “global datasphere” is expected to balloon to 44 zettabytes (that’s one trillion gigabytes!) by 2020, and 163 zettabytes by 2025, which marks a tenfold increase over what was created in 2016 (according to the recent Data Age 2025 IDC report). We are moving at quantum speeds now and fast approaching a new era of The Data Age.
$40,000,000,000 – this staggering number is the value of cognitive solutions that the IDC projects will be in the market in 2025. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have changed our landscape and will continue to do so, as the colossal growth in “analyzable data” feeds these new cognitive systems. From driverless cars (which alone will generate 100 gigabytes of data per second), facial recognition and chatbots to AI assistants – technologies like machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence – hold the keys to a limitless number of uses, making data much more relevant to our lives. And, thanks to massive advances in connectivity and mobile, the number of connected users coming online is expected to hit 75% of the world’s population by 2025. This means that real-time data will explode, enabling the world’s population to interact in ways we haven’t yet conceived.
As with all massive leaps comes the issue of quality over quantity. An explosion of data on this scale will provide new challenges to businesses and individuals. In a new Data Age, context will become the critical variable helping organizations excel and have the greatest impact. When we talk about data as the “New Oil,” it is because technology companies (aka the biggest players who currently control most of the datasphere) like Apple, Alphabet (parent of Google), Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, have replaced oil companies like ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell at the top of the market cap food chain. And, with control of data comes great power and responsibility. But, just how responsible are these global ‘borderless’ tech players when they have such massive market dominance, can use the data they control to see trends far before the rest of the world, manipulate the market, and by their very nature, unseat any new up-and-comers?
Data has historically been used to drive business operations, systems and solutions, but today it is becoming an essential element in virtually all aspects of our daily lives. So consumers, governments and businesses alike need to stay on top of what all this really means, who stands to profit from it, how to extract value from data, and how it will morph our very existence. We’ve handed our data (in most cases, freely) to the companies who now dominate. We will need to give serious thought to influencing political will (on a global scale) so that checks and balances are in place as these companies become more and more powerful.
Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications
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