At a time when global data is expected to well-exceed 100 zettabytes by 2025, there is an interesting, apparent contradiction emerging. With all of this data, organizations and individual researchers increasingly lack access to the necessary data to take advantage of the promise of big data analytics, including artificial intelligence. They are dealing with a data desert—the absence of useful, relevant data to achieve their objectives—while surrounded by the big data deluge.
Shifting attitudes toward privacy, as well as heightened security postures, have produced data silos that limit the cross-pollination of data within and across organizations. Individual awareness of privacy-violating technologies has helped spark a broader social awakening toward privacy as a fundamental right. This is a significant and positive shift in awareness; one which will only grow as headlines of privacy and security infractions continue. Similarly, executive and corporate board prioritization of security risks also contributes to the lock-down of sensitive data.
These heightened protections and awareness are foundational to safeguard privacy—and intellectual property—and should be reinforced, but it has come at the expense of the knowledge that could be garnered by integrating relevant but disparate data. A new mindset is required that focuses both on the security and privacy of data, while also reaping the benefits of data sharing to open new frontiers of knowledge for innovation and solving some of society’s most daunting challenges.
The Rise of the Data Desert
Staggering statistics have dominated conversations forecasting the imminent emerging techno-future: 75 billion connected devices by 2025. With all of these devices, individuals in 2020 will produce 1.7 megabytes of data in just one second. To handle this data influx, 83% of enterprises will rely on cloud computing, with over half of organizations implementing multi-cloud environments. 5G will support 40% of the globe by 2024 and not only will make data streaming faster, but also will be foundational to augmented and virtual reality, IoT, and autonomous vehicles and smart cities. This is the new frontier that is just around the corner, and in many cases, is already here.
However, instead of fully reaping the benefits of emerging technologies, data deserts are forming where a scarcity of useful data hinders this enormous potential. From healthcare researchers to threat intelligence analysts, there isn’t a shortage of data, but rather a scarcity of relevant data due to the growth of data silos and a lack of trust in data protection. This is creating a significant paradox; as zettabytes of data emerge, foundational innovation may be stymied due to a lack of access to existing relevant and useful data.
Security and Privacy as Innovation Enablers
Emerging technologies continue to rapidly restructure all aspects of society. With the pressure to be first to market, development timelines are often reduced and security and privacy remain afterthoughts. However, with impending legislation and growing market demand for secure technologies, privacy and security will become a competitive advantage for this emerging frontier. The competitive advantage is not only due to consumer demand, but organizations will benefit from greater data sharing, which currently is often too risky due to the threat and compliance landscapes.
There is a critical shift underway, as many of the technical and policy decisions made today will greatly impact how this new frontier impacts all aspects of society. There are great opportunities ahead if security and privacy become core enablers, and great risk involved if they are an afterthought. In the following post, I’ll discuss this critical juncture, and how the lack of data sharing in different industries is fostering data deserts, and how some are leaning into new solutions to address these growing challenges.