By Brielle Huang
Having defined big data in our last blog (see - Big Data: Introduction), the focus on this blog post is to explain the major categories of players in big data.
In order to understand the big data players, we extracted data from Thomson Reuters for all companies that have the term “big data” in their business description. There were 533 firms found in the world, and 247 firms found in North America. Since a large part of the data set for the world was incomplete (e.g., missing firm inception date), we decided to focus on the smaller North American data set instead.
Looking at the chosen data set from a high level, an interesting phenomenon appeared. There are quite a few companies (18% of the total population) in the data set which were founded before the year 2000. However, you may remember from the last blog post that the idea of big data was only introduced in the late 1990s/early 2000s. So why would there have been companies relating to big data which were started as early as 1953?
The answer is that while these older companies now have a focus on big data, it is likely that their business did not incorporate this concept at the founding date. To corroborate this assumption, we looked to see if we could find the date that these existing firms revised their business description to accommodate for the growth in big data. We conducted a search of Google News to show when articles about the company in question and big data started appearing in articles together. As we can see from the following graph, while same firms updated their business focus to reflect the growing interest in big data as early as 2000, the majority of these older players started to accommodate for big data around 2012.
The data above takes the form of a hype cycle. If the year 2000 can be taken as the approximate commencement of big data and the peak of inflated expectations occurred in 2012, then according to Stratopoulos (2016) standard deviation for big data is around 6 years. This indicates that we will enter mainstream adoption around 2018.
Similarly, a graph focusing on the inception days of new firms - shown below - demonstrates a similar spike occurred around 2012.
As we can see from the two graphs, the dates for when older companies changed their focus to big data is consistent with the date for when big data-related start-ups were founded. The data collected therefore indicates that in terms of time of adoption, existing companies and start-ups are showing the same pattern. Hence, the conclusion/recommendation that we are likely to enter mainstream adoption stage within the next couple of years.
In the next blog, we are going to use a “production function” approach to further understand the big data players.
Brielle Huang is a third year Accounting and Financial Management Student minoring in Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo. She is working as a Research Assistant under Professor Stratopoulos and researching emerging technologies, with a focus in Big Data. Brielle has completed her first co-op term in Assurance at PwC. Her other interests include creative writing and travelling.