Today’s big buzzword is big data. Its companion, buzzword analytics, is also a big favourite. There are good reasons why this is so. The last five years, after all, have seen a massive upsurge of data; we have generated 90 per cent of the entire world’s data in the last two years.
This change has been dramatic. Twenty years ago, we had all the data analysis tools in place but data was scarce. Today there is a frightening abundance of data, but nobody quite knows what to do with it.
What do we do with all this data? What can we do with all this data?
Think, for example, of telecom data. While an infinite amount of data is being generated, till recently, only a small fraction was actually used and that too for billing. The rest of the data simply flowed away, because it wasn’t profitable to either store or exploit the data. If it cost you $100 to store and analyse data, and you could at best earn $50 from it, why would anyone take the plunge?
But now things are changing. Data storage is getting dramatically cheaper, and data retrieval is getting unbelievably faster. So there’s now a good chance that your $100 investment will return you $120 instead. No wonder then that everyone is jumping onto the bandwagon, and making wild promises. “We’ll make your data talk and sing,” one analytics enthusiast recently told me. I am predicting that there will be no easy song and dance. Analytics, after all, isn’t a magic wand. There is a lot of hard work ahead before the party can start.