Tuesday, May 27, 2014

David A. Steinberg of Zeta Interactive On Why Big Data is a big deal

If you wait for all the hype to die down, and all the dust to settle, it may be too late. Even as some industries are experiencing a myriad of benefits from Big Data, other businesses are sitting on the sidelines, watching and waiting. Well, that may feel safe to be a bystander, but two things are true about everyone who stands by and watches: first, they never reap the benefits of the action, and, two, they are not protected from danger by not participating.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at why Big Data is such a Big Deal and why you need to be both interested and informed. Data, and the compiling of data, are now an inescapable part of life. Everyone, everywhere is collecting data – from phones, to credit cards, to TV broadcasters, medical professionals, and transportation hubs. The flow is constant, and for all intents and purposes, limitless. Given the sheer immensity of the opportunity, it’s a cinch that someone would figure out how to both profit from the data – and to sell that profitability.

Several years of recorded benefits now prove the worth of Big Data extrapolation, and businesses that seek to realize those benefits are poised to outpace their competition.

But the caveat to all this – and the fact that makes Big Data wonderful – is that the benefit is not in how BIG the data is or how much of it can or is being collected. The major spark of the Big Data revolution is that, finally, all that previously lost data is now actionable, and can be monetized. And, as computing power continues to exponentially increase, the potential for action and profit increase along with it.

Add the human ability to solve puzzles and see patterns, to the ability of computers to crunch data, and you have a powerful recipe for success. But, Big Data also poses some risks and concerns. People wonder about security, about wasting time with frivolous connection exercises, and pattern searches. These are legitimate concerns that paint in vivid relief exactly why businesses should align their efforts with experts in the field.

Businesses have been reaping the benefits of Big Data for years, but the marketplace success has now begun to translate into academic pursuit. Major universities, such as MIT and Harvard, are seeing vastly increased interest in, and attendance at, coursework that involves or centers on data gathering and comprehension. That means the next generation of business leaders, researchers, and marketplace innovators will enter the workforce with a foundational understanding of the basics of Big Data. Big Data application will likely go from “new idea” to “business as usual” in less than a decade.

David A. Steinberg is CEO of ZETA Interactive, a leading big data company. 

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