Big data predictions and reflections

What was in 2015 and will be in 2016

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Leading Business and Data Expert

Last year I made a few predictions about what would come to pass in the big data landscape in 2015. How close was I? Let’s revisit some of my 2015 predictions to see if they came to fruition and whether there were any surprises.

And, because I can’t help gazing towards the future, I’ll make some predictions for 2016 as well.

The Internet of Things will go mainstream

I think we can safely say I was right about this one. From Fitbits to smart frying pans and yoga mats, the Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay—and growing exponentially. The global market for wearable devices has grown 223 percent in 2015, with Fitbit shipping 4.4 million devices and Apple selling 3.6 million Apple Watches.

In fact, we’ve got 4.9 billion internet connected “things” already in circulation.

2016 Prediction: It’s time to embrace the Internet of Things. IoT will continue to become so ubiquitous that everything you can think of from cars to cat collars will be connected to the Internet.

Machines will get better at making decisions

Machine learning has taken great strides this year, with deep learning algorithms hitting the news on several occasions. We are now entering a Cognitive Era in which machines can understand speech, read written text, sort images and make all sorts of decisions and assumptions that we might never have attributed to them before.

We’re still a long way from true “artificial intelligence,” as many people envision it, but it might be more a question of terminology than technology.  

2016 Prediction: “Bots” and “Smart Advisors” will become more mainstream. These computer programs can interact with you in a natural way to assist, entertain, learn or even be your friend.

There will be a big scare over privacy

Surprisingly, I think we haven’t yet seen the “big scare” that will tip the tables toward more common-sense privacy approaches. There was a lot of noise and moaning about the privacy (or lack thereof) inherent in the new Windows 10, Snapchat and other programs but even the outcry over those died down within a few weeks.

One of the biggest data breaches of 2015 involved the website Ashley Madison, a website that enables extramarital affairs. The fallout was serious, including blackmail and several reported suicides, yet I think many people felt a sort of schadenfreude about the situation—that the users of the site might somehow have deserved it—so it really never materialized into a greater concern for overall privacy.

While I should feel grateful that there hasn’t been a more devastating mainstream data hack, I still feel as though I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

2016 Prediction: More outrage over the lack of privacy in privacy policies and continued data breaches (though hopefully not “the big one”).

Big data will provide the key to the mysteries of the universe

In my 2015 prediction, I was thinking of the data from the Large Hadron Collider, but in fact, it was data from NASA that enchanted us this year. In fact, several of the year’s space events, including the photos from Pluto, made it into Facebook’s list of most-talked-about events.

NASA’s big data problems and solutions are unique, and indeed showing us the mysteries of the universe around us. And the agency may be a driving force for innovation in how we store, process and analyze mind-bogglingly huge quantities of data in the future.

2016 Prediction: The rise of Quantum computing. “Quantum” computers, which can perform calculations that are too difficult for existing computers, could revolutionize computing altogether. You won’t be able to buy a quantum computer in 2016, but I predict that scientists will continue to make great advances toward their development and we’ll hear more about it in the news.

What are your predictions for 2016?

What observations have you made that came to pass (or not) in 2015?

Explore other predictions for the new year and some wrap ups of 2015 to prepare you for 2016, and share your ideas in the comments below.