Your Reading List & recommendations

What does the future of Big Data look like?

By Gavin Meggs, Director of Data, Insight and Analytics at O2. 

Our next blog in this series on Big Data looks to the future. What effect will regulation and compliance have on the way organisations collect and analyse data? How will the consumer’s perception of the value of their own data evolve? What are the security implications? And what role will new tools, such as AI, play in Big Data strategies?

According to a 2016 report by IBM Marketing Cloud, 90% of the world’s data had been created in the last 12 months, yet the same report suggests that the digital universe will be 40 times bigger by 2020. However, with the growth of IoT devices, 5G on the horizon and AI’s role in Big Data analytics, the data science community is certain about one thing: we have barely scratched the surface of storing and creating better value from the data that is being collected. It is the speed of the growth that has taken us by surprise, and that is making redundant the existing architectures that we have used to manage data so far.

So what does the future hold for Big Data?

Regulation and compliance

The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are causing enterprises to reengineer the people, processes and approach to data governance. (See the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website for more information related to GDPR and the data protection regime in the UK).

However, many forward-looking enterprises see GDPR as a catalyst, presenting the opportunity to review the data they are collecting, its storage, how it is being used and its true value to the business. It is an opportunity for refinement, and a chance to focus on the assets that have potentially been untapped for the insight and business decision making they could provide.

Data security

Big Data will always come with big security challenges. Even with the most modern cybersecurity measures in place, Big Data may still tempt determined hackers looking for weaknesses to exploit. To address these concerns, blockchain has the potential to provide decentralised digital ledgers, providing new ways to authenticate the validity of information by removing opportunities to manipulate records. Every instance of the blockchain which is shared among multiple users would need to be shared at the same time. When combined with encryption, this has the potential to reduce fraud and deception, and reduce the “value” of data, making it less of a target.

Staying ahead of the people who intend to generate value from the data you hold is an ongoing concern. We need to recognise that even the latest and most sophisticated technology has a shelf life and to understand the power (and limitations) of each new technology.

Empowered consumers

With GDPR giving consumers more control of their own data, we may see consumers coming to appreciate the value and importance of their data more highly, and being less willing to surrender it voluntarily. Amongst other things, businesses will need to be more transparent about the data they collect, and better at explaining what they will use it for, and how this will benefit consumers.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) can back this up. In their Whose data is it anyway? research last year, they found that two-thirds (67%) of customers say they would share more personal information if organisations were more open about how they will use it.

5G and IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to have an enormous impact on Big Data. And this will expand rapidly as 5G network deployments allow even more devices to be connected, taking advantage of the reduced latency and low power needs.

5G networks will be able to capture and manage unstructured data for business analytics applications that were unimaginable until now. It will take further advances in machine learning and deep learning technologies to make sense of the volume and variety of Big Data coming from their IoT deployments. In short, we predict a new era of Big Data analytics driving and supporting a new generation of data enabled services.

Smart cities

The rollout of 5G over the next few years will also help to deliver the high speed, low latency data that smart city initiatives will demand. O2 recently published a report outlining The value of 5G for cities and communities. In it, we outlined how the connected smart city of the future could deliver energy savings for households and local authorities, cut food waste, introduce 5G enabled energy grids to power the autonomous vehicles on the streets, make roads and footpaths safer, and reduce GP waiting times. This is just the start.

The ability for IoT to enable everything from dog collars, to fridges, cars, traffic lights, sprinklers, wearables, energy meters and everything in-between will lead to an explosion of additional insight. Perhaps you could allow your home’s AI to switch energy providers dynamically to take advantage of the cheapest tariffs? Or determine when best to water your garden. Planners will be able to control the flow of traffic based on communications across the vehicles travelling to programmed destinations. In fact, the introduction of 5G may see a Jetsons-like future of smart devices using cloud-based AI to make automated intelligent decisions in an effort to make life easier.

However, the IoT deployments required to enable smart city initiatives will also generate a significant incremental surge in data generation and consumption, all of which needs to be captured, monitored and analysed in real time. Unlike the vision for Big Data barely a decade ago, we may even need to adopt new terminology to redefine just how big this new Big Data demand will be. At O2 we’ve considered this and developed O2 Gateway to provide a converged core for all our networks, capable of adapting and connecting additional IP networks as they become available.

What does the future of Big Data hold for you – your business, your customers and yourself? We would love to hear from you. Contact us at O2 Enterprise.


All articles


Public sector

Safe & secure


Tech advice

Work smarter