Big Data​: The most important factor in 21st century’s Global economy – a historic perspective

Between 1920 to 1950 the world has seen two world wars which saw the global power shifts due to increased industrialisation which created a true market economy in several countries. After the dust settled in early 1950s, countries which focused on industrialisation saw massive wealth creation in the form of large corporations. It is interesting to see some of these fortune companies stood and withstand the global geopolitics and changing microeconomic scenarios which was partially enabled by manufacturing prowess of those times. It is exciting to note that the average age of such Fortune companies were about 60 years around 1950’s.

Then came the Era of personal computers in 1980’s, the leaders in the markets such as HP, IBM and many others ignored the potential opportunities in the space and newcomers such as Microsoft, Dell, Apple created markets which is truly global and inspirational. However, with this evolution the Average age of Fortune 500 companies reduced to around 25 years while many companies started to see sun downing on them.

Twenty years later web technologies & internet creeped into households and came the infamous .com era. Many would remember the foul memories of these events, but it is important to remember, that some of the largest companies in the world today were born during the same timeframe created trillions of dollars business ecosystems of today. Those who missed the importance of internet lost out, few went bankrupt like the famous Kodak.

Interesting events took place with emergence of social platforms around the time global businesses were trying to stand out of sub-prime crisis. This time some of the smartest mavericks in their college dorm room with vision of organising worlds information created business model where Data would be their primary assets and ever since the tenure of Fortune 500 companies came down further, which is now suspected to be around 10 years.                

A gloomy picture isn’t it?

However gloomy it looked, it still has created many new business models starting from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube of the world which has changed the face of media, entertainment, education and many more industries while emphasising the importance of Data. As Moore’s law predicted, Technology Hardware capacities for storage and compute capacities kept increasing, today a $150 worth cell phone is 10 times more powerful than high end PC that was used in the early 2000. With availability of cheap data, faster bandwidths, traditional businesses are changing at a pace which is unprecedented and unforeseen and hence many businesses are storming the fortune list while questioning the status-quo of traditional incumbents eventually pushing them out with the pace of innovation, frugality, ingenuity and most importantly thinking big.

With these changing dynamics, the biggest omnipresent question most board rooms executives should ask themselves is what this changing “Data Ecosystem” means for their survival? Governments are still trying to figure out its societal impact on jobs, healthcare, living standards, investments and human conflicts arising out of such fast changing pace of uncertain business environment.

For some, Data is a “BIG Problem”, while for others, as Zig Zigler once said “The first step in solving a problem is to recognise that it does exist.” Today organisations have acknowledged the same, started using the term “BIG Data” and finding out broad sketches for the solutions towards realising better business outcomes. When the Leaders recognise the problem it is quite natural to have enterprise curiosity as to who faced similar challenges, what solutions they implemented and what success or failure they encountered while doing so.

In my next article, will talk about some examples of organisations that have successfully leveraged big data and went on to become market leaders.