Math majors, rejoice. Businesses are going to need tens of thousands of you in the coming years as companies grapple with a growing mountain of data.
Data is a vital raw material of the information economy, much as coal and iron ore were in the Industrial Revolution. But the business world is just beginning to learn how to process it all.
The current data surge is coming from sophisticated computer tracking of shipments, sales, suppliers and customers, as well as e-mail, Web traffic and social network comments. The quantity of business data doubles every 1.2 years, by one estimate.
Mining and analyzing these big new data sets can open the door to a new wave of innovation, accelerating productivity and economic growth. Some economists, academics and business executives see an opportunity to move beyond the payoff of the first stage of the Internet, which combined computing and low-cost communications to automate all kinds of commercial transactions.
The next stage, they say, will exploit Internet-scale data sets to discover new businesses and predict consumer behavior and market shifts.