It’s been almost a quarter century since Steve Jobs’ famous quote about the computer being a bicycle for the mind. Since then we have seen huge advances in areas such as storage and computing power. So then, why is it that, after so much time, Personalization is ripe for breakthrough? The answer, as with many technological advances, is the combination of a number of trends coming together at the same time—namely Big Data, Cloud, Mobility, and Social.
As a recent VentureBeat article pointed out, 2014 is the year that the machines produce more information than humans. (Think: Skynet is upon us) That’s really a lot of data from many different sources, but why does Big Data matter? As Harvard Professor Gary King points out, it’s not just about Moore’s Law or increases in storage, it’s also about the big algorithm. Instead of a doubling of computing power of a multi-million dollar supercomputer, we’re able to solve a problem 1000x faster on a laptop. With that capability comes the ability to aggregate and take action on that consolidated picture.
What happens when the problems are too big for that MacBook Pro of yours? No problem, Data Scientist. Just spin up that supercomputer when you need it. When we take that thousand fold increase in ability and add networked computing, we can process data and use it in real time, faster than ever before. As I heard at one of those stimulating data analytics conferences…the better the four-wheel drive, the deeper you get stuck in the woods. So while yesterday’s problems might be easy, we’re pushing further to take on bigger and bigger challenges. Because you can replicate and spin up a new instance immediately, implementing a new campaign or on-boarding a new customer takes days, not months, and it can be done at a lower cost relative to traditional on-premise infrastructure. This has the added benefit of bringing big data solutions to a broader audience.
While the ability to provide a service is great, it’s mobile that is driving the growth of the cloud. Cisco estimates that cloud services traffic will grow 12-fold in the five years ending 2018. That’s a CAGR of 64%! This is largely driven by the emergence of the BRIC economies, including India, which saw the number of internet users increase by 39% last year. Digital commerce sales grew by 37%. Compare that with the 17% growth in digital commerce sales in 2013 in the US, which is a significant driver for its GDP.
The last component is Social, which has seen usage explode in numbers. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg’s social network, also known by some as “The Facebook”, has 1.3 billion global users as of June 2014. When broken down by region, the number is even more staggering, with users expected to double in India, for instance, in the next four years. So why do these cat videos and baby photos matter? Because they are a massive, curated store of information about the user, and, when used responsibly (see my future blog post on Privacy), can be a key component for understanding and providing services for these users as individuals.
The result of these forces – Big Data, Cloud, Mobility, and Social – coming together is the ability to understand massive amounts of data in real time to deliver a new era of personalization. Our team at Infinite Analytics is staying at the forefront of this innovation, using the latest predictive analytics and social data analytics to provide personalization and product recommendation in real time to deliver real results.