It’s hard to predict what might happen around data analytics in the next three months or three years, let alone a decade or two from now. But let’s be bold and take a stab at futurism and try to see what direction data centric innovation will take us and how it may drive businesses and other organizations in the coming decades.

The "Big" in Big Data Will Become Redundant

Eventually, we will simply start referring to data as data again, no matter its volume. While it’s clear that data sets will continue to grow, we will very soon grow tired - if we haven’t already - of referring to these sets as "big." This is because we will no longer be focused, obsessed or overwhelmed by the size of the data itself, but will instead shift our focus to the opportunities the data provides. In other words, the focus should quickly start to turn from infrastructure challenges to ROI challenges, such as looking for the value in the data, the hidden secrets, and ultimately, learning how to leverage that insight to generate value. (Read more about big data's growing pains in Big Data's Got a Problem, But It Isn't Technology.)

More Automation, More Creativity

As processing speeds increase and data challenges mature, automation will play a larger part in elucidating what is important in companies' data sets. Automation will open up the time and space for data scientists to use the insights pulled from the data for increasingly creative suggestions for business solutions and even business transformations. The speed of processing data will also allow for more insights to be generated, which will in turn lead to even more insights generated at an increasingly fast rate, and perhaps even a new wave of possibilities that were never dreamed of before.

Of course, the speed of innovation inherently drives the need to creatively solve a growing barrage of new challenges and questions that come even as solutions are made. The beauty in automated analytics is the speed at which data can be analyzed. As we are able to pull more and more insights instantly and automatically, the insights from our data might pose even bigger questions.


Automation, then, will lead to better, more creative solutions that will become the platforms with which we solve the next, bigger problems.

The Great Access Expansion

One of the current discussions around big data is about the desire for unfettered collection of and access to more data, and the concerns about privacy and security that arise from that want. Big data aficionados and naysayers alike are writing about how and why we should or should not access more data, as well as the implications of having this data available for governments or businesses to see. These discussions will grow more and more heated unless business and governments can foster trust and more widely demonstrate the benefits of data sharing. (Get more food for thought in Digital Data: Why What's Being Collected Matters.)

A Connectivity Explosion

The world has many more connected devices right now than it has people, and this proliferation of sensing devices will continue to grow. The "Internet of Things" will connect sensing devices to one another, allowing for real-time communication between devices and their users about their location, what is happening around them, and what should be anticipated based on their environment. The users of connected devices will continue to interact with their friends, loved ones, co-workers and their own data through innovative technologies, and in far more intimate ways.

The Internet of Things will clearly affect businesses just as much as consumers. After all, businesses are the main source of sensor proliferation and the products that they improve or create. We’re already seeing profound growth of what sensors can do for businesses. For example, Progressive Insurance is using sensors to drive down insurance costs, while other companies are providing remote control of your home’s security and energy use, and Google is tracing traffic accurately and in real time in the world’s major metropolitan areas. These services will continue to grow and become more complex as businesses develop better ways to use them. What's clear is that we’re only at the beginning of what businesses and consumers alike can take away from services through connected devices.

Big Data's Big Future

In the future, data is likely to be become more automated, providing us with greater access to creative solutions. What exactly it will deliver, however, remains to be seen. We all conjecture about where this wave will go based on current and past trends. Where do you think it's headed?