Awaiting the Second Big Data Revolution: From Digital Noise to Value Creation


"Big data"—the collection of vast quantities of data about individual behavior via online, mobile, and other data-driven services—has been heralded as the agent of a third industrial revolution—one with raw materials measured in bits, rather than tons of steel or barrels of oil. Yet the industrial revolution transformed not just how firms made things, but the fundamental approach to value creation in industrial economies. To date, big data has not achieved this distinction. Instead, today’s successful big data business models largely use data to scale old modes of value creation, rather than invent new ones altogether. Moreover, today’s big data cannot deliver the promised revolution. In this way, today’s big data landscape resembles the early phases of the first industrial revolution, rather than the culmination of the second a century later. Realizing the second big data revolution will require fundamentally different kinds of data, different innovations, and different business models than those seen to date. That fact has profound consequences for the kinds of investments and innovations firms must seek, and the economic, political, and social consequences that those innovations portend.

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Mark Huberty
Publication date: 
February 18, 2015
Publication type: 
Journal Article
Huberty, M. Awaiting the Second Big Data Revolution: From Digital Noise to Value Creation. J Ind Compet Trade 15, 35–47 (2015).