The term 'big data' originally began to circulate within the market at the end of the last decade, an emerging idea of which people were unsure - would it be the next big thing or another fad quickly forgotten?
Over the following couple of years, it became clear that big data was here to stay. This was underlined by a 2012 survey conducted by technology research company Gartner - in 2012, 39% of companies in the education sector said they had already invested in big data. It wasn't just the education sector that was on board - 36% of healthcare and transportation companies were also early to the proverbial party. Despite these specific sectors forging ahead, other industries were less keen to leap into the big data pool. In the same survey, 62% of companies said they either had no plans to implement big data within the next 24 months or, alternatively, no use for big data whatsoever. For sure, the market was divided on opinion back in 2012.
Four years later, that is no longer the case. In a 2015 survey conducted by the same organisation, the number of companies who intend to do nothing about big data in the next 24 months has drastically fallen, now sitting at below 25% - so the majority of companies who were lukewarm on big data in 2012 have now changed their tune entirely.
But why has this happened? We believe it is a combination of two main factors. The first is that evolving technologies are making it easier to get into big data, particularly Apache Hadoop - given this is an opensource technology, it has allowed businesses across the world to begin looking into big data with less impact on their bottom line.
The second factor is that public awareness of big data and its uses has increased dramatically. It seems impossible now to visit a website without seeing an advert for something you've previously looked at or, at least, has reasonable relevance to your interests. This is big data at work and the immense possibilities of this level of automated yet specific marketing have become increasingly apparent.
The sheer buzz around the term 'big data' and the amount of talk of it in technological circles will have led a number of companies to look into how they can harness this technology for fear of being left behind by their competitors. There are further changes coming, which will no doubt spur on even greater growth for the sector.
Data scientists are currently scrambling to develop new methodologies of analysis and reporting to make the data more usable and accessible, which is one of the biggest challenges right now. It's all well and good to present a plethora of facts and figures but if they are unclear or indigestible to many, their value will be limited.
As the results of big data crunching become more user friendly, yet another reason to avoid it will have fallen away. Even more companies will implement this business practise - which, in the ongoing cycle of business, will lead to increased awareness and other companies getting on board too. Make no mistake about it - what we've seen over the last few years is just the tip of the iceberg. Big data is here to stay and it's only going to get bigger.