The Dawn of Data Companies

I remember that when I took my first programming class in high school, I felt as if an entire world of possibilities was at my fingertips; if there was ever a need or a problem to be solved, I was now more prepared to develop software to address it.  But that was quite a while ago, and the climate has taken a dramatic shift away from the familiar world of software and into the brave new world of data which, unfortunately, puts my own personal graveyard of software ideas even further into the ground!

Nevertheless, this progression away from software towards data-based companies does make economic and business sense.  Forbes’ article, “RIP ‘Software’ Companies; Hello ‘Data’ Companies” cites the shift in cloud computing and the aggregation of data that has become more valuable as it increases in size.  Mike Hoskins is mentioned in the article as saying, “[is] Google a software company?  Is Facebook a software company?  They’re not, they’re data companies.  The value they and many other companies provide to the market is their ability to manage data and provide analysis.”

It is with that statement that we can see that our lives revolve around the distribution and processing of data.  Facebook profits from the data that users input into their systems, Google collects data from its searches, and Forbes processes such business-related data and has writers talk about it.  Once big data sets became a big deal, the point was reached where collections of data themselves can provide profitable information to many types of companies.

Today we see a demand for the manipulation of data, where companies are being paid to sell, analyze, process, and reevaluate data.  Multiple datasets are  brought together for companies to be able to piece together the bigger picture, and patterns are being discerned that were previously unknown. Because of all of these new situations and opportunities, it is all the more necessary for companies to be able to process their new and massive data sets in efficient ways. Through the effective utilization of big data analysis, businesses are able to make better and faster decisions because these massive data is being collected and analyzed in ways never before possible.

The Effect of Cloud Computing on Software Pricing

The transposition in today’s technology towards Cloud Computing means big things for lots of people.  There is an entire generation of new services and products that will have a sleek, far-reaching form of distribution.  This new method of disseminating software stands to do a lot for the pricing of traditional software packages and a lot for our wallets as well.

But how exactly will this change?  Instead of the burdensome bundles of Microsoft Office and other similar suites, Saikat Chaudhuri is cited in Financial Post’s article, “Cloud Computing Disrupts Software Pricing” as saying, “Instead of big suites, lightweight applications will become the norm.”  With the accessibility that comes with Cloud Computing, customers will be given more options on what specific products they want to buy.  This cuts out on the burdensome office suites, which allows consumers to pinpoint what software they need and not have to deal with the rest.  Mitchell Osak writes in his article, “Fading fast are the days when general-purpose software packages were sold in boxes with a one-time, perpetual software license fee plus expensive maintenance and upgrade charges.”  We don’t want to deal with those annoying prompts for updates and maintenance when we only plan on using the software for a limited period of time. This new distribution structure has the potential to drop all of the extraneous pieces of proprietary garbage, and what we get in exchange is a leaner system of purchasing software, one that reduces prices and caters to the needs of the customer.

As a college student, I am forward to this opportunity that Cloud Computing has opened up.  What we will see in the coming years is experimentation with subscription based services and pricing of software.  This will most certainly lead to cheaper prices for us software hungry masses.  I will have the ability to pick and choose software that I require for my classes, and not only that, but there will most likely be options for subscription services in addition to traditional licenses.  As long as the quality of the software stays the same, having more options when it comes to purchasing the software is strictly better than having fewer options, and I’m certainly not complaining.

The White House Big Data Initiative

Big Data is the term applied to the general issue of the manipulation of increasingly large and complicated data sets. We take data, process it, analyze it, and then come to a conclusion based off of the given data.  The problem that users face is that the sheer volume of data through which they need to sort is becoming impractical given traditional methodologies.

In line with this growing need for Big Data solutions, the Obama Administration has recently announced the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative.” Pumping $200M of federal funding into a field largely dominated by open source communities, this initiative is full of promise. Security Week’s article, “Obama Administration Places $200 Million Bet On Big Data,” outlines the opinions of many White House officials on the subject, as well as the effects this decision will have on military and scientific fields.  “In the same way that past Federal investments in information-technology R&D led to dramatic advances in supercomputing and the creation of the Internet,” the Big Data initiative “promises to transform our ability to use Big Data for scientific discovery, environmental and biomedical research, education, and national security,” said Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In addition to the fields mentioned within the article, the Big Data Research and Development Initiative will also have a significant effect on commercial businesses.  Internet-based social media services and marketing groups have vast quantities of data at their disposal, but such quantities of information are difficult to process using traditional sorting methods.  Instead of having to manually sift through large quantities of complicated data to fully understand the state of your business, Big Data analytics is capable of finding patterns that common data crawling techniques seldom are able to find. Due to this increased ability to process information, companies using Big Data solutions are able to make faster and more informed business decisions than businesses that are still using traditional data processing methods; this ability to make informed decisions based on large quantities of data is an important facet of business intelligence. About 34% of organizations have reported applying Big Data analytics to large quantities of data and, in order to remain competitive, more businesses will need to begin utilizing Big Data solutions.

This overview is in response to Security Week’s article, “Obama Administration Places $200 Million Bet on Big Data“.