One result of the unrelenting increase in computing power is that the amount of data is now huge. Earlier this year, it was estimated that 295 exabytes of data was being stored around the world in 2007. An exabyte is a billion gigabytes. That’s a lot of data, though admittedly it’s not a yottabyte yet (a million exabytes).
Not only is data storage technology improving — for example, you can buy a 1 TB (terabyte: 1000 gigabytes) hard drive for well under £100 — but more computing power means that it’s now possible to analyse these huge amounts of data.
It’s changing the way companies do business, too:
As Ron Kohavi at Microsoft memorably put it, objective, fine-grained data are replacing HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinions) as the basis for decision-making at more and more companies.
In the past, it may simply have been too hard to collect masses of data and then analyse it. That’s simply not true now. It’ll be interesting to see if these data-driven decisions turn out to be better than the traditions seat of the pants ones. My bet is that, on the whole, they will.