Navigating the New Big Data
Big data isn't just big, it's unimaginably huge. Do we need a new way to deal with all this information? One writer believes so. Read on to learn why.
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The digital economy is a ferocious force that’s fed by data. The billions of people trolling Twitter, paying bills, reading news, and binging on Netflix are creating a head-spinning amount of data that propels this industry forward. According to Forbes, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated each day.
If that number fails to register as anything but an abstract abundance, you’re not alone.
Of course, none of this should be surprising. Since the onset of the dot-com bubble, people have been participating in the digital economy at a rapidly accelerating rate. It’s only been 25 years since Amazon began reorienting our commerce experience, but our personal and professional lives are now essentially expressed in duality: online and offline.
For example, last Christmas, online sales overtook in-store purchases during the holiday shopping season. Meanwhile, the amount of time spent on social media has grown every year since its inception. In 2017, the average person spent more than two hours each day on social media platforms. Regardless of platform, every view, click, like, and share is meticulously collected by tech companies to produce things like targeted advertising and other money-making endeavors.
In fact, data collection and implementation have become so prolific that it acquired the phrasal prefix “big” that is tangentially assigned to other industries. Data has become so prolific that it has become problematic.
Big Data Is a Big Problem
The scope and depth of big data was truly realized this fall when the Cambridge Analytica scandal dominated headlines for weeks. To be sure, this event had incredibly destructive real-world consequences including the manipulation of millions of Facebook users who were fed fake news that derived from their own personal data.
At the same time, a series of high-profile breaches compromised significant amounts of users' personal data. The two most high-profile attacks on Yahoo and Equifax collectively compromised billions of accounts.
From a business perspective, storing, managing, and protecting this data is becoming cumbersome and intrusive. The enactment of the GDPR in Europe and other laws in the U.S. have increased the onus for companies to appropriately manage this data, and a shifting consumer sentiment frequently villanizes platforms seen as too intrusive.
Therefore, the era of big data is shifting and maturing. The result is better data.
The Era of Blockchain Data Services
By now, most people on the internet have heard about blockchain technology and its revolutionary approach to seemingly anything and everything. While it’s true that the blockchain will have profound effects on industries as divergent as supply chain management and financial services, its impact on business and consumers is most profoundly experienced through data management.
Indeed, blockchain technology is poised to disrupt data quality, storage, and portability in ways that haven’t been seen in the digital age.
The Blockchain Provides Verified Data
As many people now realize, the internet is great at connecting people, but it’s poor at fostering trustworthy relationships. Both at an individual and an enterprise level, this is problematic.
However, the blockchain can produce better data by verifying its authenticity and certifying its legitimacy on the blockchain. Not only does this make digital platforms more functional for users who can authenticate their data, but it’s also important for companies because they can now send and receive information that’s trustworthy and usable.
This data-as-service mentality can assist developers in creating the most intuitive platforms possible, and it can facilitate trusted interactions in a B2B or B2C capacity.
With the blockchain, documents, transactions, and other data sets can be verified, stored, and transmitted without compromising security and usability.
The Blockchain Protects Data
Data security is one of the most talked about and controversial aspects of the digital age, and the blockchain helps improve that problem.
Most obviously, the blockchain’s decentralized network renders typical assaults like DDoS attacks useless. Since hackers cannot simultaneously overwhelm thousands of computers located in hundreds of different locations, this popular approach to data theft is impossible.
Moreover, the blockchain enables users to tokenize their data so that only the verified abstraction is available for other platforms to access.
In short, it returns data control to its owners by providing a high level of security for their valuable information.
The Blockchain Makes Data Portable
The digital ecosystem is predicated on transferability. In many ways, it’s an endless series od transactions that coalesce to create the internet.
Fortunately, what the blockchain adds in verifiability and security, it doesn’t subtract in usability. Initially created to account for cryptocurrency transactions, the blockchain is uniquely suited to facilitate digital monetary or data transactions. Most obviously, smart contracts function as an escrow-like service that makes data transactions fast and automatic.
On the blockchain, businesses can easily share reliable data with one another, customers can interact with platforms securely, and developers can build compelling platforms without succumbing to powerful anti-intrusion sentiment driving today’s markets.
The era of big data may be coming to a close, but a new movement propelled by better data is just getting started.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.