One day, as I was wandering through the tech landscape, I encountered a fact which froze me in my tracks. The Advanced Performance Institute says that if we took all the data created from the beginning of time until the year 2000, we now generate more data than that in a single minute. Eric Schmidt, the previous CEO of Google gave a talk in 2010 during which he said that if we gathered all the data from the beginning of time until the year 2003, it would not equal the data we create every two days. Although these statements may differ in magnitude, you get the idea. We are now generating enormous amounts of data every minute of every day. Where is all this data coming from? The vast majority is generated by the myriad of devices that are connected to the internet, the so called "Internet of Things." Think about everything that you have personally which may be connected to the internet. Smart phones, tablets, watches, fitness bands, automobiles, home thermostats, alarm systems, security cameras, doorbells, video gaming systems, televisions, DVD players, digital assistants,...the list goes on and on. In fact, Gartner estimated that in 2016 there were more than 6 billion connected devices, and that this number would rise to 20 billion in 2020. The Cisco Internet Business Service Group puts the figure much higher, and estimates that in 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices. By way of comparison, there are now nearly as many internet-connected devices as there are people on earth (i.e. 7 billion), and clearly the devices are multiplying much faster than we are.
Organizations are becoming increasingly adept at using these data to gain insights into who we are, how we live, and our likes and dislikes. The age of "Big Data" has arrived, and in future posts I'll discuss some of the ways these data are being used.