Big Data Becoming Big Business

Whether measured in terabytes, petabytes, exabytes, zettabytes, or yottabytes, big data is getting bigger by the millisecond. The McKinsey Group estimates that enterprises globally stored more than 7 exabytes of new data in 2010 alone. According to Gartner, enterprise data will increase 650% over the next five years. IDC pegs enterprise data doubling every 18 months.

The promise of big data is both compelling and straightforward — crunch large data volumes to unlock insight that informs timely decisions that boost efficiency, the bottom line and competitiveness. But how will businesses fare in the years ahead as data volume and types explode?

According to Professor Erik Brynjolfsson from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, big-data driven decision making achieves 5%-6% productivity gains. Retailers, according to The McKinsey Group, could see as much as a 60% increase in their operating margins by taking advantage of big data.

“There is a lot of untapped insight that could be exposed from exploding internal and external, structured and unstructured data sources,” said Dan Vesset, vice president, Business Analytics solutions, IDC. “Predictive capabilities help businesses explore and identify the opportunities and risks hiding in the sea of all that big data.”

But not all pundits predict a rosy future for businesses and big data. According to Gartner Predicts 2012 research, more than 85 % of Fortune 500 organizations will be unable to effectively exploit Big Data by 2015. Brian Hopkins, an analyst with Forrester, estimates “that firms effectively utilize less than 5% of available data.”

The only thing that can be said with certainty about big data is that it will only get bigger in the years ahead, which is why many analysts are predicting that big data will soon be big business.

Deloitte predicts that in 2012, big data [technology solutions] will likely experience accelerating growth and market penetration. By the end of 2012 more than 90% of the Fortune500 will likely have at least some big data initiatives under way. Industry revenues will likely be in the range of $1-1.5 billion, according to Deloitte.

IDC concurs, saying big data will be a big issue in 2012. IDC predicts that digital content will grow to 2.7 zettabytes (ZB) in 2012, up 48% from 2011. The vast majority of this information (90%) will be unstructured content such as videos, images and web. Although full of rich information, unstructured data is difficult to analyze, making big data analytics a key investment area in 2012, according to IDC.

IDC predicts the market for big data technology and services will reach $16.9 billion by 2015, up from $3.2 billion in 2010. That is a 40 percent-a-year growth rate — about seven times the estimated growth rate for the overall information technology and communications business, according to IDC.

According to Ovum Research, in the next 2-5 years, 45% of organizations globally will invest in Big Data.

Forrester analyst Brian Hopkins paints the big picture for businesses and big data:

In this information age, the firms that best turn information to their advantage will dominate their competition. And big data will play a big part in helping them do it.


  1. […] Over the past decade, we have entered the Age of Big Data, where digital technology allows people around the world to transmit information at an unthinkable rate – 2.5 quintillion (2.5×1018) bytes of data per day, if you speak the language. I don’t, so I’d rather translate this to monetary terms: In 2010, the industry that has formed around big data management was worth more than $100 billion and was growing at roughly 10 percent a year. The world’s actual volume of data grows much more rapidly, doubling every 18 months according to the IDC. […]

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