Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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The Big Data train has left the station – are you onboard?

We’ve heard a lot about Big Data over the past several years. It’s been one of the biggest topics in IT and practically every enterprise has been clamoring to get onboard the Big Data train. Now that some of the hype has died down and been replaced by the Internet of Things, organizations are stepping back to re-evaluate their processes of capturing and analyzing Big Data. Reaching an impasse, many companies have begun to realize the only way they’re ever going to make any sense of the enormity of the data out there, is through better tools, processes, and smarter strategies for capturing and analyzing in real-time all that’s available.




With Internet of Things and wearables now exploding in the marketplace there is even more urgency for organizations to figure out how to capture all the information generated by these devices. This has given many organizations cause to pause, take stock, and reassess their goals for capturing and analyzing Big Data in real-time. This has meant as well that there are plenty of new opportunities for newbies to get onboard with the latest trends.

No one has cornered the market in the Big Data space and, in fact, it’s a constantly moving target. In many ways we’re at a new staging ground in the Big Data life-cycle as more and more organizations who have experimented with historical data are admitting their need for deeper insights. If you’re in this camp then it’s probably a good idea to stop and take an inventory of your processes and decide what has worked and what hasn’t, before pushing on. For other organizations that have delayed their Big Data strategy, you’ll have some catching up to do but it’s never too late to get started. There are plenty of new and exciting technologies that will keep everyone – newbies and more experienced firms alike – extra busy in the years ahead. Let’s map out some of the major trends happening in the Big Data space, which indicate why you need to get onboard this train now if you haven’t already.

1. Machine learning is big and getting bigger

Big Data has become really good at analyzing historical data, but the next big shift in these technologies is with applying machine learning algorithms to “infer” or predict new types of knowledge. The synergies and connections are nicely spelled out by one blogger as follows:

Think of big data and machine learning as three steps (and phases of companies that have come out of this space): collect, analyze, and predict. These steps have been disconnected until now, because we’ve been building the ecosystem from the bottom up — experimenting with various architectural and tool choices — and building a set of practices around that.

Businesses that can crack the predictive nut from the masses of data available today will have a veritable cash machine at their disposal to drive new types of customer value and service for their verticals.




2. Big Data in the Cloud will increase scalability

The growth in Big Data, as well as the expansion in data analytics platforms in recent years such as Hadoop and NoSQL, are creating new opportunities for cloud computing to become a key enabler of Big Data analytics. Public clouds providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft, offer their own brands of big data systems in their clouds, whether NoSQL or SQL, that are cost efficient and easily scalable for businesses of all sizes. All of this points us to the reciprocal relationship between cloud and Big Data that is driven by consumer demand for bigger, better, and faster applications. In fact, Big Data + Cloud has led to another new cloud computing service model known as Analytics as a Service (AaaS). This model will provide companies with faster, scalable ways to integrate, analyze, transform, and visualize various types of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data in real time.

3. Big Data-as-a-Service will open up new business opportunities

As Big Data meets Internet of Things it will pose a whole new set of business challenges, and opportunities. In a report last fall, Goldman Sachs called IoT the third wave in the development of the Internet with a potential market share of $2 Trillion dollars by the year 2020. The market is driven by the confluence of factors such as cheap sensors, cheap Wi-Fi, ubiquitous wireless coverage, Big Data, smartphones, IPV6, and more. According to the report, this confluence will generate “new business models that more seamlessly integrate hardware and software offerings, which support better recurring revenue streams and greater customer stickiness.” Big Data is the crux and core of new services generated by the Internet of Things, and much of the innovation in this space will be overseen by third party providers that develop the software channels for customer access to the long trail of devices and sensors connected to the internet. Cloud based service models built on top of these channels will generate Big Data-on-demand to customers and business alike. In other words, the new era of Big Data & IoT will spawn all kinds of revenue streams that make data more intelligible, accessible, and actionable from a business standpoint; the opportunities here will be almost endless!




4. Apple Watch will transform the Big Data landscape

Apple has just raised the bar on wearable technology a notch with its soon-to-be released Apple Watch, which doubles as a health and digital fitness tracking device. Wearables gathering these kinds of metrics are just some of the innovations that will bring Big Data into an epic new era. Here, as never before, businesses also will have incredible opportunities to capture additional stores of information about who we are, what we do in our free time, our favorite books, and many, many other life preferences. Consumers, developers, and businesses are lining up. Make sure your organization is ready to capitalize on the massive amounts of data that will emerge out of the Apple Watch era.



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About Jeffrey Walker

Jeff is a business development consultant who specializes in helping businesses grow through technology innovations and solutions. He holds multiple master’s degrees from institutions such as Andrews University and Columbia University, and leverages this background towards empowering people in today’s digital world. He currently works as a research specialist for a Fortune 100 firm in Boston. When not writing on the latest technology trends, Jeff runs a robotics startup called, along with oversight and leadership of - an emerging market assistance company that helps businesses grow through innovation.