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Much is written about the vital role of big data for corporate decision-making. In my own state of Utah, companies like Domo and Omniture (now Adobe) spin the cash register with breathtaking advances using big data for more accurate and timely executive action.
Even my iPhone fitness app just alerted me of its use of big data to customize a more effective experience to my needs and goals. But while data has been collected for centuries, only in the last few decades have we had the computing power to harness and put the data to practical use.
My recent attendance at a big data conference in New York City prompted me to consider the future applications of fresh technology that harnesses vast data repositories. Experts from Under Armour, The New York Giants, Notre Dame, The Women’s Tennis Association and Stanford University unfolded the future of professional sports and healthcare. While these experts in prescriptive analytics, clinical risk intervention and predictive analytics spoke of current and future applications, a dozen or more young entrepreneurs sat in the back of the room creating big data dreams of their own.
Two 15-year-old students from Business Technology Early College High School (BTECH) in Queens, New York dazzled me with big-picture thinking about the social implications of harnessing big data while protecting our future. The teens shared very entrepreneurial thoughts of how to deliver genomic big data solutions without diminishing individual self-worth.
One young man used the example of applying genomic big data to people to create a “Superman” in the future. Yet, he noted that if everyone were Superman, no one would be. In other words, no one would be unique, stand out from the crowd. Wow! That’s big picture thinking that reminds me of a science fiction novel.
Alex Torres, a 20-year-old entrepreneur studying at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, represented the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) at the event. As an alumnus of the NFTE program, which is focused on teaching the entrepreneurial mindset to under-resourced youth, Torres has taken the classroom experience and started his own organization.
He’s interested in big data that benefits the mental health industry. His non-profit startup, You’re Not Alone, focuses on encouraging young people suffering from depression. His early-stage business interfaces with school districts that recognize the magnitude of this growing problem in today’s schools. He wants to make sure that while digital-data explosion and personalized technology continues to ramp, we remember that people still need to connect with people one on one, face to face, in real time.
Sarah Currid, Development Director for NFTE, says SAP (Systems, Applications and Products) has been a great corporate partner for the student entrepreneurs her organization serves. She indicates NFTE has impacted more than 600,000 young people to date with an eye on entrepreneurial futures around the world.
In a world where 74 million young people are currently unemployed, NFTE believes exposure to their project-based learning program makes youth more career-ready and prepared for employment by high-skill industries and by cutting edge companies like SAP. Currid says thousands of new businesses have grown out of the students’ participation in the NFTE program.
Companies like SAP collaborate to provide new solutions for big business and emerging leaders in healthcare and sports. Since their native language is digital, it seems apparent that we are wise to give a listening ear to young entrepreneurs thinking outside the big-data box for solutions of the future.
If big data is accessible to these enterprising teens, there’s no longer any excuse for small business owners the world over not to use this resource for their own advances. With inexpensive online tools, you can integrate your consumer data with massive collections of information about your target market, general mobile usage, specialized industry data and so much more.
Basically, the only limit to the use of big data for young entrepreneurs and small companies is your imagination.