Posted by: qmaxim | August 24, 2011

Big data and software eating the world

Two major trends related to software is getting more and more prominent now a days &  are  impacting  everyone’s  daily life.

First trend is the explosion of software everywhere be it  mobiles, cars, military, airlines or
aircraft. In a recent article called why software is eating the world,   web browser (Netscape) inventor Marc Andreessen has written how software is exploding in all kinds of devices and making the world more  efficient in general. He gives several examples from social networking, logistics, military, manufacturing, automobile industries. He suggests that Google’s and Apple’s sky high valuations are still pretty low.

I agree with his analysis about almost unlimited potential of  software. Almost all the examples he quotes are   from software companies. Then he goes on to calling FedEx (the largest logistics company in the world) a  software network that happens to have
trucks, planes and distribution hubs attached

Second trend is about exponential growth of data which is now known as big data. Depending on the sector, big data it is defined as having a size anywhere between tera bytes to peta bytes (A terabyte ( is 1,024 gigabytes , 1 petabyte is  1,024 terabytes).  Explosion of devices having built in intelligence and increasingly networked world is leading to creation of deluge of data. For example, according to recent study by management consultancy
McKinsey on big data,  Facebook users share 30 billion pieces of content every month. In India  there are 700 million mobile phones installed and assuming each device does  100
transactions per year  one can imagine the amount of data generated. Ex- Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani is heading a challenging project for assigning unique identification number to each of  India’s 1.21 billion citizens. All government and private  transactions will use this number. Implementation is well under way and is likely to be completed in  2-3 years. Obviously, huge amount of data will get generated when this is fully implemented. Similarly, in  large manufacturing enterprises devices such as  control and monitoring devices  generate huge amounts of data which is either stored or in most cases  simply discarded.

I agree with Andreessen’s assessment of the trend of  software being all pervasive.  But in my view he goes  just a little overboard by calling FedEx a software company. Somebody has to produce  goods being shipped, goods have to be packed, collected &  shipped, people have to be trained, planes and trucks have to be driven or flown , etc. Surely, these activities are  equally important if not more important and they form Critical success factors of FedEx. No doubt, software makes such a scale of operation possible and makes it so efficient.

Increasingly, companies having competence and suitable strategy in dealing with big data will have competitive advantage over the ones who are laggards. Competency includes storing, retrieving, applying analytics on   big data sets.  Another area of real importance as well as concern is how and where such enormous amounts of data are stored and how this
data is secured.




I will be pleased to hear your views

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