Five consumer technology trends for 2014

3. Big data for the little guy

Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service for IBM/File
A young fan explores the IBM Game Changer Interactive Wall at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Big Data analytics and data visualization can bring stats, scores, and match analysis to life for fans of all ages.

"Big data" matters. It is high-volume, high-velocity, and high-variety information, and the next generation of technologies will be designed, therefore, to glean insights from these large volumes of data, by capturing, discovering, and analyzing it.

Big data is growing and will graduate from the early adopter phase in 2014 to become more valuable and actionable, according to Ovum, a London-based consulting firm.

Cloud-based services and tools will help democratize big data, giving even smaller businesses the ability to store and analyze big data for business insights.

Cloud computing will grow at a 17 percent compound annual growth over the next  three years, providing new levels of economies of scale, agility, and flexibility, able to deploy virtually unlimited computational power at low cost.

Finally, we are entering an era of big data “by the people, for the people.” Consumers who use social-media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, are generating near continuous streams of data about themselves.  The trick for companies will be to extract value by deriving insights from the data in order to tailor and sell better products and services to them.  Community-based and community-powered platforms will be the first to make sense of the masses of information.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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