Talk about big data and all the numbers describing its magnitude is big, too. And with more mobile devices coming into the world, there will be exponentially more data that will need to be managed, stored, and used to create a more customized end-user experience.
Chew on these stats coming out of a seminar on spectrum and mobile data growth's threats and opportunities at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Robert Pepper, vice president of global technology policy at Cisco, oversees its Visual Networking Index studies, which track data use and consumption. He said in the seminar that mobile data will grow at a compound annual rate of 61% between 2013 and 2018.
“If last year, the data consumption globally was about 1.5 exabytes per month, and in five years we will be adding three times that per year, you're adding the capacity, essentially, of three existing networks in one year,” Pepper said. “Where are we going to get the spectrum to support that kind of tripling of capacity just in that one year? And, between now and then, there is a 11-fold increase in the data consumption across the networks.”
By 2018, Cisco expects mobile data traffic to reach 15.9 exabytes per month, he said.
People's behavior is changing, as well, as more data becomes available (and useful) to them. Aimee Stone Munsell, director of smarter marketing at IBM Software, said about 75% of mobile shoppers will take action after receiving a location-based message, and more often, people are willing to share their location information if they will get something in return.
If this behavior switch is happening on the consumer side, how long do you think it will take to reach the business world? How long will it be before we see wearables, machine-to-machine, and the Internet of Things change the kinds of devices that interact with us? How will they be designed to handle this big data influx while keeping end users hyper-engaged and businesses relatively sane?
Specifically for the electronics supply chain, what will happen to product sales forecasts as those connected devices shift from a mobile phone in your pocket to your refrigerator, your car, or even your toothbrush? Yes, Procter & Gamble was on the MWC show floor introducing its Oral-B smartphone-connected toothbrush, which integrates with a cool, teeth-displaying app. (It's not as creepy as it seems.)
Wearables didn't exist a few years ago, and now they will require design and supply chain consideration. And what happens to sourcing expectations for parts that weren't given much attention before but soon might be elevated to critical component status? Sensors immediately come to mind. Just look at all the sensors that will be in these new wearables as an example.
The multiplication of big data creates many unknowns for the electronics industry. But is it a threat or an opportunity? You tell me.