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Is Big Data an Economic Big Dud?

There were 30 billion gigabytes of video, e-mails, Web transactions and business-to-business analytics in 2005. The total is expected to reach more than 20 times that figure in 2013. For now, though, most of the raw data flowing across the Web has limited economic value: far more useful is specialized data in the hands of analysts with a deep understanding of specific industries. “The promises that are made around the ability to manipulate these very large data sets in real time are overselling what they can do today,” In addition, infrastructure investments often take years to pay off in a big way, high-speed Internet connections laid down in the late 1990s that have driven profits only recently. In contrast to the Internet’s first wave, which created services like the Web and e-mail, the impact of the second wave — the Big Data revolution — is harder to discern above the noise of broader economic activity.

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