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Buying and Selling Data is a $300-Billion Per Year Industry

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There’s no question that mobile devices have changed the way society works on a fundamental level. It’s hard to imagine even leaving the house without your trusty smartphone by your side. The iPhone was once advertised as “life in your pocket,” and this phrase has proven to be entirely too true. Eight years following the introduction of these devices, businesses have grown reliant on this type of mobile technology to stay relevant in their chosen industry.

The fact that mobile technology development has become such a juggernaut of profits only serves to emphasize how important smartphones have grown to be in the business world. Still, the question needs to be asked: what comes next? How do you improve an already-revolutionary piece of technology? Well, the first step is understanding data and information, which just so happens to be the next “big” thing.

What’s Big Data?
Did you know that the average person uses up an enormous amount of data on a regular basis? As of May 2015, global IP traffic has increased 500 percent over the past five years and is at nearly one billion gigabytes per year. This number is expected to increase by 100 percent over the next five years to about 2 zettabytes per year. To put that in perspective, a zettabyte can hold 36,000,000 years of HD video.

To make this number even more astounding, this shift has all happened relatively recently, and the effects that this has had on society are still being discovered. Mobile devices have become the new must-have computing solution, beating out the PC in terms of overall worldwide data usage. People that use smartphones are doing so in order to reap the incredible benefits of having a portable web-connected device at all times, rather than to make calls whenever they want (though this also plays an important role, especially in business). This creates a situation where businesses are building significant revenue streams by mining, packaging, and selling user data to advertisers and other information-seeking organizations, including governments.

Expect Constant Connectivity
It should come as no surprise that your business’s computing systems handle a large amount of data. Analyzing this data can be a great way to learn more about your business and how it operates. If the amount of data your business handles comes off as a huge amount of data, what happens when every device imaginable starts connecting to the Internet? This is what’s known as the Internet of Things, and it’s been approaching rapidly in recent times. In fact, the very first network-connected device was a Coca Cola machine on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. The machine could report when beverage containers were empty and it could measure the temperature of imported cans.

According to Gartner, nearly 26 billion separate devices will be on the Internet of Things by 2020, and every single one of these devices will produce its own data. Each of these devices will also be collecting data whenever possible, and sending it to manufacturers for analysis. The reasoning for this is that it’s supposed to help producers get a feel for their market, and to usurp the corporate notion that opinions are superior to cold, hard facts.

But What About the Users?
According to Mckinsey Global Institute, data brokers like Acxiom, fuel an industry worth $300 billion a year by selling off the data they collect. This information can include users’ name, gender, age, ethnicity, and more. In a profile of the company by The New York Times, Acxiom claimed to have information on some 500 million people including, “nearly every U.S. consumer.” Like it or not, information made up of your sociological traits, your search results, your purchasing history, even your browsing history, is being mined for valuable information.

Did you know that these same analytical methods that are being used to create marketing profiles are being used to create powerful new technologies like artificial intelligence? Using a method called deep learning, professionals are using software algorithms to perform high-level thought and abstraction. These algorithms are designed to create visual representations of data that help businesses better understand their chosen markets. Visual materials are often much easier to examine than raw chunks of data, making them effective for understanding underlying trends in their industry. Since most answers these companies are looking for can be found by analyzing this data, there’s no doubt that businesses will continue to value their data more than anything else in the near future.

Do you feel that big data will help businesses shape their marketing and business models in the near future? Let us know in the comments.

Date: August 3rd, 2015, Author: Jorge Rojas

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