“Man the food-gatherer reappears incongruously as information-gatherer,” was a line by Marshall McLuhan back in ’67. Back in ’43, Alan Turing visited Bell Labs on a cryptographic mission with Claude Shannon, the inventor of the word bit, as a unit for measuring information. Shannon and Turing were speculating on artificial thinking machines and Turing remarked, “Shannon wants to feed not just data to a Brain, but cultural things, he wants to play music on it!” In deference to my SCRM pals, not much was done to enable the ether with the proper accoutrements to take advantage of these forward thinkers until the last dozen years. So don’t take it personally.
The proposition that one day we would be so overwhelmed with the information out there in the ether, and would somehow be inclined to use it, and capable of exploiting it to our advantage, was not really taken seriously until recently. Once the greatest information gathering device in the world, the Internet, came about, data became the elephant in the room. Now we see software applications doodling around with notions from the advertising world, which is where most ideas are generated these days. Structured data and unstructured data are being mixed and matched to sort out how we spend our time, if we are a danger or an asset to the powers who be.
Mobile technology, the newest playing field leveler, especially for undeveloped countries, is expected to grow by 100% through the next few years. Data mavens salivate from this because the data reconnoitered from mobile devices can be tagged to individuals thus making it even more valuable than an ordinary IP address.
“Sources such as online or mobile financial transactions, social media traffic, and GPS coordinates now generate over 2.5 quintillion bytes of so-called big data every day.”
Services in health, education, financial services, and agriculture promise to vault the developing world into the 21st Century, and we have certainly seen evidence of that already.
The dynamics of the data ecosystem demand an unbiased referendum on how governments, business and the general public are protected and how profits can be gained. We’ve already witnessed how companies peddling CRM attributes have mined their customer base to help them help their customers.
The concept of the “Superuser” as a free source of expertise is not new, God knows, the evolution of the beta test used by companies like Microsoft, to cure their turgid code, has been part of the general good, though never intended as such.
We’ve seen, regardless of your politics, how the Arab Spring and natural disasters have been assisted by social networking and how information shared somewhat altruistically can be an important tool for the betterment of humankind and the natural world.
The private sector maintains vast troves of transactional data, much of which is data exhaust, or data created as a by-product of other transactions; the public sector in most countries also maintains enormous datasets in the form of census data, health indicators, and tax and expenditure information. Medical establishments and their cohorts are finally getting on board in the race for using big data to reduce the 17% of GDP we now spend on healthcare.
Big data is no secret and nothing new. Obstacles abound from every segment of the economy and threats prevail that can bring down entire societies. The notion that people can trust their information to a Facebook or a Google or their government is simply a myth as all these giants are doing anything they can to mine the data and repackage regardless of what their privacy statements say.
Education is a must and leadership is desperately gone from the landscape. Take my advice and don’t share your personal identifying information and if you decide to discuss personal locations and other attributing features, accept the fact that it will not be kept private. Lastly, encourage those you vote for to learn how countries and some governments are doing things the right way.