Big data and predictive real-time analytics are critical dimensions of technology which have wide applicability across industries. IDC forecasts the big data technology and services market to become a USD 41.5 billion business through 2018. This market is growing with a CAGR of six times faster than the overall IT market and the growth rate of data and information has been incredible. As per IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated every day from the internet, posts on social media sites, emails, ecommerce transactions, website contents, videos, digital photos, sensors and more. All this, with only 41% of the world connected to the internet. Imagine the colossal amount of data that will be generated when the entire world is online and hundreds of billion devices become connected through the Internet of Things, IoT.
The key to harnessing the true potential of advancements in computer, network and storage technologies is software centric, and software is key to growth in all industries. The power of software-led big data is the ability to mine meaningful insights from the deluge of information around us.
Big data has the immense potential to impact individual health. In the 12 years since the completion of the Human Genome Project, there has been an exponential reduction in the cost of genome sequencing, to the extent that it now costs approximately USD 1,000 for a single genome sequencing and will certainly cost less than USD 100 by the end of this decade. Genome sequencing is being leveraged by life sciences companies to create personalized medicine for an individual with a specific disease. Creating personalized medicine based on the individual’s DNA and other related conditions will have a significantly higher rate of success in a cure and wellness. It will not only reduce the cost of care but, more importantly, increase treatment accuracy, one patient at a time.
Another relevant area where big data and real-time analytics could play a huge role is in agriculture and farming. Amazing results could be derived by combining the power of big data to face the challenges of growing enough food to feed increasing populations, reducing waste, and creating a sustainable and eco-friendly future. By 2050, the world will have 9+ billion people and to generate enough food, we must not only produce substantially more, but we must also produce them with smart/precision agriculture. Soil types vary widely from farm to farm, from region to region. The technology available today could combine years of data with advanced soil maps and upcoming weather patterns to predict farming conditions, enabling customized decisions to optimize yield. The insight from such data analysis could immensely help farm owners, more so in the developing and emerging countries where yield could be significantly improved while reducing substantial waste. Monsanto’s acquisition of Climate Corporation is an example of the way forward for smart agriculture. Smart/precision agriculture is the future, and big data with predictive analytics is the tool to improve yield, one acre at a time.
Software is omnipresent across manufacturing industries and has become the biggest investment areas for several companies. As per Jeffery Immelt, GE CEO, “The industrial world is changing dramatically, and those companies that make the best use of data will be the most successful”. Manufacturing is one of the key sectors to have leveraged the use of sensors effectively and in many ways, proliferated the IoT. These sensors are now embedded in multiple devices and products, and capture constant streams of data. They are in simple devices such as wearable health trackers which capture wellness data, and are also in complex systems such as aircraft and automobiles which capture the maintenance and operational efficiencies of critical parts. Currently, an automobile has an average of 60-100 sensors (expected to increase to 200 by 2020) embedded across multiple subsystems, capturing real time data about performance. Combined with predictive analytics, big data can drive higher benefits at an individual level. For example, it can predict when to replace the fan belt as effectively and accurately as when to refill gas. It is the impact on each unit of car for each passenger that is the key advantage for big data and predictive analytics.
There are innumerable areas where big data is now, and in the future could be, leveraged to drive transformational benefits across all sectors and industries. Digital and mobile are mainstream, and the data set will continue to increase with an ever-increasing momentum as the world continues to onboard the internet and IoT. The advantages and impacts of big data are when its benefit can be applied to a person, a unit or an instance, one at a time. That is when its massive power comes together to deliver real value.