Measuring the True Value of Big Data

Martin Fleming, , Vice President, Business Performance Services, Chief Economist, IBM

In a recent New York Timesarticle, reporter James Glanz asks: “Is Big Data an Economic Dud?” Mr. Glanz seems to answer his own question skeptically. The “data era,” he suggests, will not match the earlier revolutions in manufacturing, domestic life and transportation.

In addition, the Wall Street Journal posted a blog discussing that Big Data is at, or near the peak of the Gartner “hype cycle” and “big data technologies are now soon to be due for a fall into the ‘trough of disillusionment.’”

While it’s easy to be skeptical about an uncertain future, in fact, Big Data is providing business and consumer value today. Take for example the energy industry. The massive transformation of the US energy industry means that the US will soon become the world’s largest energy producer. This success is built on the use of hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – that has made vast amounts of formerly inaccessible hydrocarbons profitable to extract. Fracking technology is, in part, the result of the use of millions of sensors that generate massive volumes of data that drive and govern exploration and production. […]