Research editorial: Big business for big data


by Didier Moizo - Analyst sector trends 

The growth of data available and the need to effectively process them benefit unequally to different countries and economic sectors. Not surprisingly, "Big Data" is driving big business for the TIC but public sectors do also benefit from big data generation and analysis.



The abundance of data, a growth driver 

The explosive growth of data uploaded to the Internet provides unstructured real time information generated by various technologies of communication (mobile, connected TVs, tablets, PCs and laptops, objects, machines). This pool of data that can be analyzed, crossed and used for business and organizational needs thanks to the new technologies of storage and data analysis is a real growth driver. 

These data, easier to integrate and exploit, are consumer opinions on Facebook pages or brands’ Twitter accounts, blogs, and data generated by IP-connected devices. Over 800 million people have a Facebook account and five billion mobile phones are used daily in the world. With this increasing volume of data , storage, processing and analysis technologies are also developed. 

This phenomenon, named the “Big Data”, is both a challenge and a source of wealth creation, new services development, better productivity, improved organization and declining prices of time-saving products.. According to estimates by McKinsey, the business productivity could increase by 0.5 to 1% per year and create many jobs (1.5 million U.S.). 

IT and communications, the BIG  winners

The Big Data phenomenon and the need for the technologies associated benefits to the IT sector in the fields of computing power, storage capacity, cloud, semantic web (ability to use a data from the web and interbreed with one another), "Big Database" (storage solutions with superior capacities), management tools of Big data, technology integration of heterogeneous data, simple crossing and rapid data sources, techniques of visualization, data mining, lift via social data or information through calls for contributions or network analysis through opinion leaders. According to the IDC institute, the Big Data market will grow by 40% annually until 2015, reaching 16.9 billion dollars, up seven times higher than the IT sector. The growth will vary according to the segments : 27.3% for servers, 34.2% for software, and 61.4% for storage.

All are not equal before the terabytes

To make the most of the opportunities offered by Big Data, companies face different challenges. The success obviously relies on the access to data and the awareness of their value that will push companies to better protect them, by attributing them property rights or regulating for privacy reasons.  

Big Data processing also requires investment in hardware and infrastructure design, new organizations, and recruitment and training skills. If the majority of Asian companies have understood the potential benefits of an effective strategy to manage Big Data, the essential adoption of specific tools is not yet widespread, and the 'raw' data, is lacking : they are concentrated in the United States (3500 petabyte of data in 2010) and Europe (2000 in 2010), against 250 in China.

Sectoral inequalities 

The different industries don’t have the same capacity of big data generation and analysis. Media, consumer electronics, financial services and governments are in the lead, followed by the distribution, tourism and transportation, and health sector. 
In the production sector, the analysis of data crossed with quality indicators is used to identify production methods maximizing the quality of the process. The crossing of sales forecasting, and inventory allows to better estimate the needs for replenishment. Information on consumer behaviour accelerates the development of new products more suited to the market expectations and practices. 

In the health sector, the implementation of management technologies could generate 300 billion Euros per year contributing to R & D, clinical decision, prescription and distribution of drugs. The European Union has estimated that the Big Data could reduce public sector costs by 20%, or about 300 billion Euros. 

Operating margins of the distribution sector will also benefit from the consumer behaviour insights by developing segmentations and propensity scores to customize offerings. The analysis of customer journey and behaviour through facial recognition, and online shopping carts or geo-localization can analyze and optimize linear organizations. Finally techniques for signal processing, prediction analysis facilitate early detection of fraud in banking and distribution.