We are all aware that the amount of data being collected is exploding. This explosion has created new opportunities to consume, analyze, and monetize all of this information. A quick scan of the tech-centric media will show that entrepreneurs are looking to exploit this opportunity from various angles. There is no shortage of startups focusing on tackling the “big data” problem. None of these startups, however, are the real story of “Big Data.”
While there will undoubtedly be a few winners among these startups, I believe entrepreneurs are largely overlooking the real opportunity created by the exponential growth of data. Big data, more than any technological disruption in recent history, will fundamentally change existing businesses. You heard me right, traditional businesses will change their core strategy and begin to focus on information. All relevant businesses are becoming information services providers.
Think about it. Nike is leading the charge. Nike no longer makes sneakers, or even athletic gear, as its primary business. The prime real-estate on the front page of their website advertises the Nike Fuelband, a small bracelet that collects information about you and your activity. This data can be used for multiple reasons. Right now it measures your exercise in “fuel,” but in the not-so-distant future it will easily determine how many calories you’ve burned, track your blood pressure, or alert your doctor of an irregular heartbeat. Plug it in to your iPad, and voila. After an hour of wearing it, you will have more information about your activity and self than you’ve had access to for your entire life.
Welcome to the information age. No matter what company you work for, you are now working in the information services industry. It’s an inevitable switch. I hope you’re ready.