By: Chris Blake, Account Director


We live in a technologically wondrous time.


A couple of years ago, the New York Times posted a fascinating article about American Innovation, arriving at the conclusion that the biggest “revolution of recent decades is in the supercomputer most people keep in their pocket.”


Mobile phones are indeed magical. But even portable computing power as a platform for innovation is no match for a much bigger driver of innovation: knowledge—the kind that can be discovered through Big Data.


Sure, Big Data has been around for years. Although, while some believe NASA researchers Michael Cox and David Ellsworth were the first to coin the phrase 20 years ago, in a way, Big Data has always been around. We’ve only recently been able to create the technologies capable of making sense of it and putting it to work for businesses, people and our world. The revolution—rather, the promise of a revolution—is nothing new. But something happened in just the last couple of years that will transform those first Big Data-enabled small steps into the giant leaps we’ve been waiting for: automated data cataloging.


Yes, in full disclosure, MSR represents a provider of software that does just that. And yes, we believe these types of companies will do much to open the flood gates.


The state of Big Data right now is a lot like what gold mining was between 1848, when gold was first discovered, and 1853 when hydraulic mining technology came along to replace manual panning. Despite the wealth of information companies capture through what we do on the web, much of the “gold” they capture is trapped in the pay dirt of the data lake. They’re simply capturing more data than they know what to do with. And more and more data is coming in every day. According to IBM, the world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. This number continues to grow—so much so that 90% of today’s data was created in the last couple of years alone.


This massive collection of data can’t change the world on its own. You don’t acquire knowledge simply by be surrounded by books in a library. You have to read those books. This, of course, can take an incredibly long time. Data isn’t knowledge. You have to make sense of it. What’s changing is how fast data cataloging is now allowing that to happen.


Right now, organizations of all kinds are using data catalogs to quickly transform that static information into actionable knowledge. Already, the torrent of intelligence that’s being unleashed is having a tremendous impact on a variety of industries. Travel. Insurance. Financial services. You name it. It’s changing the way we do business. But where Big Data really gets exciting is when you consider the profound ways it will hasten new developments in science, health and technology that will bring massive change to our everyday lives. Could we finally be on the cusp of curing cancer? Or ending world hunger?


It’s possible that the answers to some of society’s most challenging ills are already sitting there in someone’s unanalyzed data, waiting to be discovered. Or maybe it’s distributed across a number of organizations, waiting for mechanisms to be put in place that will connect the dots. Will automated data cataloging help unearth these big discoveries? Will they help ignite the next big age of innovation?


I’m hoping we won’t need to wait much longer to know.