Five stages of big data development

February 14, 2019 10:32
The massive collection of user behavior data has become possible, thanks to the the internet and smartphones. Photo: Freepik

Big data development is entering its ninth year in 2019. It’s now stabilizing after years of fast development.

In the process of digitalization, corporates and cities have encountered different issues. 

Let me review what has been happening in this field since 2010 by summarizing the data technology development process into five stages.

In stage one, everyone is talking about big data, but only a few companies truly own big data resources or have the capability to harness them. Most people are still skeptical about big data, and only a handful of companies are willing to commit huge resources.

In stage two, the massive collection of user behavior data becomes possible, thanks to the advent of the internet and smartphones. This has enabled many internet and online marketing firms to gain first-mover advantage.

Despite the overwhelming amounts of data, applications have been few and far between. Leading data-driven companies are looking for better ways to move forward.

In stage three, the emergence of deep learning and the wide application of videos and language recognition substantially boost the applications of big data technology in areas such as financial technology, healthcareand smart cities.

In stage four, data becomes a key resource for companies and governments seeking innovation. But concerns about data security and customer privacy start to surface. Data governance becomes crucial.

Meanwhile, the complexity of data sources makes people realize that a proper management system and heavy investment in data middle-office technology are needed in order to keep data updated and in good quality.

In stage five, the negative impacts of data technology and artificial intelligence become key concerns. Potential job losses and unfair competition are some of the issues that might need to be addressed.

As the digital economy develops, companies and societies will go through these stages, though not strictly in that order.

The future will continue to evolve along with the development of Internet of Things and 5G technologies.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 13

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Venture Partner of Sequoia Capital China, former head of the data committee and vice president at Alibaba Group.