Hi. I’m Jack Shaw, the Business Technology Futurist. This is one in a series of brief videos in which I will discuss intelligent systems and how you, and your organization, can think strategically about how best to benefit from their remarkable capabilities.

Today, let’s talk about Big Data. The numbers measuring the quantity of data in the digital universe are so staggering as to be practically unimaginable to most people who aren’t trained mathematicians.

When I was a boy my grandfather once asked me if I would rather have a million dollars or a 64-square chess board with one penny on the first square, two on the second, four on the third and so forth, with the number of pennies doubling on each successive square until all 64 squares were covered.

Of course, I immediately opted for the cool million not realizing how much I’d have left on the table, or on the chessboard as the case may be. In this case, the power of exponentiation means that the chessboard would hold thousands of times the GNP of the whole world.

Notwithstanding whether my grandfather could have paid that off (or the million for that matter), this illustrates the extraordinary power of exponentiation. We are seeing a similar exponential growth in the amount of digital data created. Heck, each flight of a modern passenger jet creates half a Terabyte, or 500 Gigabytes, of data.

Recent studies indicate that the total data created worldwide is doubling every 12 — 18 months although even this statistic may be outdated by the time you watch this video. By 2020, it is estimated that, as a global society, we’ll be creating 35 Zettabytes of data annually.

How much is that? One Zettabytes is a billion Terabytes. That’s a lot of data. The question, of course, is, “What do we do with all of this data?”

In theory, more information can mean better decisions. But too much information can simply inundate us. Of course, we have to have systems and infrastructure capable of storing and processing these enormous quantities of data. But we need more than that. We need systems smart enough to help us find the right data needles in that huge haystack, and then use that information to help us make better decisions.

As Big Data continues its exponential growth, we are seeing increasing power and maturity in the technologies available to manage it. The result will be deep insights using such tools as predictive modeling, sentiment analysis, and machine learning. This, in turn, is leading to such advanced business practices as mass customization, autonomic supply chain management, and better decision management.

Stay tuned. In other videos, I’ll explain more about how intelligent systems can work with Big Data; and, even more importantly, talk about some of the significant ways in which they’ll be used.