The E2 community is a tight-knit band of brothers from other mothers, but even the best of friends can't all agree on everything. In our last E2 poll, we asked: "Big-data has the potential to transform multiple vertical markets. Which market will be able to master it first?" The results show that we E2 folks were not able to come to a consensus:
- 25.53 percent -- Healthcare
- 28.72 percent -- Finance
- 13.83 percent -- Manufacturing
- 27.66 percent -- Retail
- 00.00 percent -- Other
- 04.26 percent -- Don't know
Myself, I voted for retail (and being that I'm usually right about everything, I congratulate 27.66 percent of you for being just as brilliant as I am). I still hold to my decision, but I must confess -- I've been pondering this question more deeply and I think that perhaps we're all correct. The right answer will differ depending upon how you define "mastery" and what kind of master you're looking to study under.
The Giant: Perhaps the crown and mantle of Big-Data Master should be bestowed upon the industry that first figures out how to store BIG, even enormous, amounts of data. In that case, healthcare might be your choice. Each medical image -- X-ray, full-body MRI, 24-hour EEG -- is an enormous file. Regulations require that those files be retained for the duration of a patient's lifetime. Medical imaging technology is advancing at a rapid rate, promising even more kinds of huge files to appear in the near future. And security regulations may prohibit medical centers from using public cloud-based storage. If you're looking for an industry that will show you how to create a tremendously scalable, secure, mostly on-premises storage system that can accommodate simply massive amounts of big-data, then the healthcare industry might be the big-data leader you seek.
The Oracle: Perhaps you think the true master is the one that can build something valuable out of unstructured data -- the one that can divine real-time insights from the relentless clamor of social networking messages and respond quickly to those truths hiding in the din. In that case, retail might be the guru you seek. The retail industry has been doing this for a long time -- retailers' marketing departments are always crowding the cutting edge of any technology that can give them a glimpse into the demographics, habits, minds, bodies, and souls of their customers. They customize and craft their advertising, customer service, product design, pricing, and PR based upon their discoveries. And because they're always pushing the edge of new data-based technology, they're always the first ones to encounter legal roadblocks and other challenges. If you're looking for a leader who has ages of experience and can foresee the future, then retail might be your big-data sage.
The Ninja: Or maybe you're hitching your wagon to financial services, because it's facing a combination of the challenges of both healthcare and retail. Like healthcare, finance is strictly regulated; but unlike healthcare institutions, financial services organizations operate on a global scale. Like retail, finance moves fast and must draw real-time insights from huge amounts of data; but unlike retail, finance doesn't rely on so much unstructured data from social networks. Financial services companies require agility and precision. The need to overcome so many complex challenges may cause financial services to one day become the greatest big-data master of all, but might prevent financial services from becoming the first master.
So tell us. What industry gained your vote and why? Who do you have the most to learn from, Grasshopper?
While you're pondering that, don't forget to take our new E2 poll and tell us what Santa brought you this year. (Hope it wasn't coal.)