How Big Data Will Change the World… and Save Your Life
Data. It’s more than just the name of a famous Star Trek character… It’s the foundation of our world.
Data is everything these days. There’s nothing more important to companies than gathering massive amounts of it – customers’ wants, their spending patterns and pretty much anything else.
Big data is big business.
By 2026, the big data market is expected to top $92 billion. That’s a 307.8% increase over the $22.61 billion the market was worth in 2015.
Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) used its wealth of customer data to create Alexa, the virtual assistant that now lives in homes across the country. Alexa can deliver the news, play your favorite music and even learn new “skills” to make your everyday life easier.
So far, Amazon has sold more than 5 million Echo devices (the hardware that houses Alexa). Demand was so high before Christmas that the company completely sold out.
What’s important to note is that Alexa is constantly learning. Through voice recognition, it’s compiling gobs of data. Alexa learns more about us every time we ask it to complete a task.
Amazon is hoping this massive cache of data gives it the advantage over competitors like Alphabet‘s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Home. (Funny enough, it was an enormous stockpile of data that helped Alphabet – aka Google – defeat interlopers in the web search space.)
Now, this is extremely important for Amazon, because Alexa is not just part of the Echo. It’s being loaded into several third-party devices, including fridges, cars and robots.
Many are calling it the winner of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
So don’t go thinking that Alexa is only for home use. Soon, it will be everywhere. And the more data it consumes, the better Alexa will be.
But you must understand… big data isn’t just about consumer-facing applications like those offered by Alexa.
Big data could ultimately save your life.
Returning to Star Trek…
On Star Trek: Voyager, there was an “Emergency Medical Hologram” known as “The Doctor.” (As I’ve said, I like sci-fi…) This specialized computer program was an expert in all fields of medicine.
Now it’s looking like The Doctor could soon become a reality. In the big data industry, there’s almost no segment growing as fast as healthcare.
You see, 90% of all medical data is images. Historically, most of this data has been analyzed manually. But there’s a change underway.
According to Reports N Reports, the healthcare analytics market is projected to reach $24.6 billion by 2021. That’s a 187% increase from the $7.39 billion it was in 2016. And it represents a compound annual growth rate of 27.1%.
At the forefront is IBM (NYSE: IBM).
Once again, the more data at hand, the bigger the advantage. All technologies involving artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep-learning algorithms need enormous amounts of data to consume and digest. That’s how they evolve and learn.
In 2015, IBM acquired Merge Healthcare and its trove of 30 billion images. Now IBM’s Watson is being fed a constant diet of medical images.
One of the near-term problems it’s attacking is detecting tumors.
Every year, more than 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. It’s the most common cancer in our country and costs the healthcare system roughly $8 billion per year. Early detection is key.
This is where Watson comes in. Watson is consuming images to learn how to detect the early signs of tumors as well as many other medical problems. It’s automating analytics and cross-referencing X-rays, MRIs and other medical images against lab results, genomic tests and health records.
But IBM isn’t alone.
Companies like McKesson (NYSE: MCK), Cerner (Nasdaq: CERN), Allscripts (Nasdaq: MDRX) and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) are key in the healthcare analytics market.
It’s also worth noting that, over the past five years, private investors have spread $1.5 billion across 190 healthcare-focused AI startups. Since January 2015, a third of investments have gone toward imaging and diagnostics companies.
It’s only in the past few years that big data has really started to break out. That’s because we finally have computers and connections fast enough to transfer and analyze the mounts of collected information.
We’re quickly hurtling toward a world that resembles science fiction. And if you want to profit from this host of new innovations, you need to understand this…
It will all happen a lot faster than you think.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Wall Street analysts.
About Matthew Carr
Matthew’s expertise ranges from classic industries such as oil and mining to cutting-edge markets like small cap tech, cannabis, 3D printing and cloud computing. With almost two decades of financial experience under his belt, Matthew’s knack for finding market trends never fails to surprise us, which is why we keep a close eye on his free e-letter, Profit Trends.