Data is being captured today as never before. It reveals everything from large and systemic patterns—of global markets, workflows, national infrastructures and natural systems—to the location, temperature, security and condition of every item in a global supply chain. And then there’s the growing torrent of information from billions of individuals using social media. They are customers, citizens, students and patients. They are telling us what they think, what they like and want, and what they’re witnessing. As important, all this data is far more real-time than ever before.
And here’s the key point: data by itself isn’t useful. Over the past year we have validated what we believed would be true—and that is, the most important aspect of smarter systems is data—and, more specifically, the actionable insights that the data can reveal.
We have seen the emergence of a kind of global data field. The planet itself has always generated an enormous amount of data, but we didn’t used to be able to hear it, to see it, to capture it. Now we can because all of this stuff is now instrumented. And it’s all interconnected, so now we can actually have access to it. So, in effect, the planet has grown a central nervous system.