Fibra ottica

Last week Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi defines a 1.5 billion Euro post-EXPO Milan plan that will include a research center for Big Data. The “Human technopole Italy 2040” plan would allow Italy to boost its digital ecosystem and improve its innovative and competitive potential.

Data is the new global currency. Data means growth, innovation, the future. As our lives become ever more digital, we produce incredible quantities of data that can be analyzed and subsequently turned into big profits. We call this collection of information “Big Data.”

But what is Big Data, this concept we throw around so loosely? Gartner, the leading ICT research and advisory company, defines Big Data as the “high-volume, -velocity and -variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making”. Infamous data science researcher Doug Laney’s three Vs, Volume, Velocity, and Variety, can help us better understand the concept of Big Data. Volume stands for the vast amount of data that is collected, Velocity for both the incredible speed at which data is processed and the measurement of temporal changes in data sets, and Variety stands for the diverse formats of data which can be textual or numeric, consisting of log files, emails, photos, videos, stock and financial data, health data, and the list goes on.

What makes Big Data so big? To put it into perspective, approximately 31,045 GB of Internet traffic was generated in the last second. This rate grows each day, each minute, each second that passes. Today more than 207 billion emails and 860 million Tweets were sent, 4.2 billion Google searches performed and more than 243 million photos were posted on Instagram. An estimated 43 trillion GB of data will be created by 2020.

This data, the information that is generated from our countless actions across networks, is given value through its analysis. Big data analysis is conducted through the use of complex algorithms capable of analyzing millions or even billions of pieces of information to find patterns and insights that allow the data to be leveraged. This can be for numerous purposes including for scientific research, to develop economic forecasts, to understand and predict any kind of trend, or, perhaps the most familiar example, to analyze consumer behavior in order to generate revenue from targeted advertising.

We all know that economic value can be extracted from this data, but just how much? According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), in its Internet Advertising Report published this October, HY 2015 Internet advertising revenue has increased by 19 percent to 27.5 billion USD and at the same time, social advertising revenue has increased by 51 percent to 4.4 billion USD as we see a marked move towards higher mobile connectivity.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized United Nations agency that deals with ICT issues, estimates that there will be 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide by the end of 2015. As the number of Internet users grows each day, so does the amount of data generated each and every moment, all the more true as more objects are connected to the Internet. This is what we once called the Internet of Things, made possible by the innovation of big data and analytics, which has been transformed into the Internet of Everything, estimated to be worth 19 trillion USD in the next decade. That means a whole lot of data and a whole lot of revenue for the public and private sectors.

Big Data matters because it means innovation and growth. It has the potential to save lives, to improve our economies and to create a better future for our children. Big data is our future and it should be used wisely.