Age of Disruption

LONDON – The year 2013 moved the world further into the Digital Age – a global epoch of changes whose likely impact on the world economy will be 2-3 times greater than that of the Industrial Revolution. Some 90% of the world’s total data were created in the past two years. By 2020, the quantity of stored data could be 50 times greater than it was in 2010. Many pundits regard this massive explosion of data as the new oil, even a new asset class.

This profusion of data is being fueled by the near ubiquity of the Internet. Smart phones are set to connect an additional 2-3 billion of the world’s citizens by 2020, with billions of machine sensors monitoring everything from tractors to jet engines, and further breakthroughs in computing power enabling massive increases in data storage and analysis.

In this environment, fluency in data management and analytics will be vital for successful organizations. A study published in 2011 by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and his colleagues found that companies using data-driven decision-making had a 5-6% higher productivity rate than those that did not. The ability to capture, organize, extract insights from, and transact with data has now become a core competency for every industry and across every sector.

The disruptions resulting from the new crucible of data and analytics are spreading across both the public and private sectors. Netflix, the popular video-streaming website, used its vast database of user searches, views, pauses, and reviews to design the made-for-the-Internet series “House of Cards.” The series combined a popular director (David Fincher), actor (Kevin Spacey), and plotlines borrowed from a popular British show with the same title – all of which scored highly on Netflix’s popularity metrics.