Big Data, from big gamble to great opportunity
in Industry 4.0 & IoT

Big Data, from big gamble to great opportunity

For some years there has been a increasing talk of Big Data and the phenomenon is growing. Every day we are swamped with a multitude of information from all sides, and at the same time we are ourselves producers of data that, in the digital age, become more important than never before. The huge mass of data invests obviously the companies that, perhaps, from this point of view should understand better the importance of the data as much as their significance in terms of business. Because of a market that involves enormous sums of money (a total value of a trillion dollars, according to IDC, is expected for this year) the companies must understand the great importance of the data, how interpret it and know it better, to enhance and take advantage of the contained information.

Just to give a practical idea of ​​what is meant by growth of data phenomenon in the digital age, examples like these are enough: in 1986, so 30 years ago, the data amounted to 281 PetaBytes (1PetaBytes  equals 1 billiards of bytes); in 2014 the exchanged data were more than 650 ExaBytes (1 ExaByte equals 1 trillion bytes).

Big Data, the direct benefits for the companies

To be even more precise, and to describe better what could be the direct benefits for the companies from the point of view of Big Data, we can say that one of the advantages is that Big Data can help companies pursue better its core business. From the large amount of data, properly interpreted, it is possible to increase revenues, cut costs and, at the same time, reduce the risk levels. In one word, optimize and enhance their business. Another advantage that should be noted is that the Big Data are a trump card to enter in new markets. Through collecting data relating to the use of a product, it is possible to open new business opportunities. An example can be General Electric, the American giant that everyone knows, that, although concentrating its market on the production of locomotives and jet engines, it uses the data to expand its business even in predictive maintenance for air and railway companies.

Big Data, the market value

IDC recently estimated the market of Big Data, scaling down the figures that go beyond one million dollars collected by other analysis institutes, will grow more, recording a figure of + 23% until 2019, with a estimated value of 48.6 billion dollars. Wikibon then noted that the market will grow more until 2026, when the estimated value will be 84.69 billion dollars, more than half of today's value that is 37 billion dollars.

In this context it is worth noting an interesting research of New Vantage that monitored the use of Big Data among Fortune 1000 companies, over the past four years. Even these figures confirm the increasing presence of Big Data within business processes. The research shows that 63% of companies stated that they had increased of 5% the introduction of Big Data in the production processes compared to 2012; the 63% of companies declare to increase investment in Big Data for $ 10 million by 2017, a significant improvement compared to 2012 when it was 24%; 54% of companies declare to have introduced a Chief Data Officer, this percentage is growing, in fact in 2012 it was 12%; 70% of companies reveals that Big Data now are particularly important, an increase of 21% compared to 2012. And lastly, in terms of investments, 27% of companies will invest more than $50 million in Big Data by 2017, compared to 5% of the companies that has invested the same amount in 2015.

Faced with this huge mass of data it is useful to make a reference also to the Thick Data. If Big Data is the enormous amount of data that investing companies, Thick Data are often extrapolated by anthropologists or ethnographers to detect human behavior and underlying causes. From the perspective of marketing, it is beginning to spread a strategy that involves the use of Big Data combined with Thick one, to have an overview of the issues, to detect the attitude of the individual towards the product or reference service. It is surely a strategy that must be considered to understand better some of the dynamics related to the behavior of the customer, who has changed in the meantime his choice of purchasing a given product. The analysis of Thick Data can help to understand what dynamics have occurred and how to make adjustments .

The growth of Big Data is closely linked to the growth of the Internet of Things

The increase of connected devices has as a direct consequence the exponential growth of data which must necessarily be interpreted and analyzed as well as possible. For this reason, alongside the rise of Big Data phenomenon, there is a growing need to analyze the data that are gradually stored. And to do this, it is also growing the phenomenon of Analytics, i.e. all those software that help to interpret the data, assisting the companies to receive information for their business decisions. IDC predicts that, as for Analytics, the market will grow of 26% over the next three years.

And with the development of Analytics, an extremely important activity, the concept of Data Science is gradually emerging. With the advent of Big Data, the concept of data "preparation" to make room for the specific activity that gets to the bottom of the data analysis (that it is the most important and significant of all the Data Science) is abandoned. All the information required for the companies come out from this activity. It is not a case that a specific figure for this type of activity is coming, the Data Scientist, an essential figure to pull out all the useful information. As well as, among the essential figures, also the Chief Data Officer is emerging.

To conclude this brief look at the Big Data market, it is essential that companies begin to become aware of Big Data, now no longer a gamble, but a real opportunity of growth. To take this opportunity, there is a need of change from both organizational and cultural point of view. New people able to interpret and extract from data the essential elements, to face the important decisions in a dynamic and fast way, are needed.

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