Big data is big business





A lot of investors call data the new oil or gold. But they are wrong, since data nowadays is much more valuable to all companies as it is almost irreplaceable. Although data is still not available in unlimited quantities today, unlike oil and gold it can be used as often as you wish because, in contrast to physical raw materials, data does not wear out. While a barrel of crude oil or an ounce of precious metal can only be sold and processed once, you can sell data as often as you like and process it in as many applications as you want - all at the same time. As with oil, there are also producers, refiners and users for data. A pre-requisite for this is a market for data - a network of players who know how to handle data, and who have agreed on a standard for exchanging and trading data. This is extremely important because, when dealing with data, milliseconds count. Much data is sometimes only up-to-date for a few days, often only seconds or even fractions of a second. They are exchanged and processed by services in real time.

The massive volumes of information generated and used for decision-making in business today fuel the booming business of data analytics and ‘big data’ companies. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that the “global datasphere” in 2021, meaning the total amount of data created and consumed during the year, reached 59 zettabytes and will continue to grow at a 26 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) through 2024.

Big data describes huge volumes of data that flood a business daily, coming from an ever-growing variety of sources. It typically describes data sets with sizes beyond the ability of traditional data processing software tools to capture, process and curate in a timely fashion. Big data comes from myriad sources. Some examples are transaction processing systems, customer databases, documents, e-mails, medical records, Internet clickstream logs, mobile apps and social networks.

The list of ‘Big Data’ companies continues to grow. Leaders in the field include MongoDB (MDB. US), Elastic (ESTC.US), Workiva (WK.US) and Splunk (SPLK.US). Big data companies can specialise in various areas, including data mining and cleaning; data analysis; machine data; visualisation; and storage.

These data markets are emerging and establishing a new industry, even a new economy - the data economy. You can now sit back and watch, following the motto: “The market will take care of it.” The market will “regulate” that, too, but it will, like e-commerce or social media platforms, create an imbalance in which a few providers would have the monopoly on access to a lot of data. Therefore, it is important to take counter-measures with open initiatives before quasi-standards are established by the market.

Critics of this new economy claim it is crucial that no oversized data centres are being created, but that everyone remains in possession of their data and only standardised interfaces for automated retrieval are created. Only then does a free market arise, in which you can search for specific data and compare the offers of different providers before doing business.

Such open data ecosystems not only secure the economic interests of everyone, but can also guarantee IT security, data protection and sustainability better with transparency than black box systems from individual manufacturers.

If certain data can be made available to as many interested parties as possible, it avoids having to constantly and unnecessarily re-collect or recalculate this data. Incidentally, this also results in great energy and CO2 (carbon dioxide) savings. In addition to pure status and prognosis data on weather, the environment, traffic, energy, medicine, society, etc., this can also be image data, 3D data as well as standardised simulation models and pre-trained AI (artificial intelligence) models.

We should think and exemplify the openness in all directions, and invite everyone interested to take part. The most important thing, however, is that there are no dependencies on individual providers, so that the digital sovereignty of the data providers, the companies involved, and entire economies is preserved.


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