Three business and societal cases for big data: which of the three is true?

Scott W. Cunningham, Wil A. H. Thissen

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

1 Citation (Scopus)


A recent and high profile, forecast by IDC (International Data Corporation), predicts a $16 billion dollar industry for big data hardware, software and services in 2014. Growth in big data is expected to grow six times faster than general investments in information and computing technology. What could justify such an expense? Where is the business and decision-making value in this technology? What does such market growth say about the emerging use of big data in society? Let's attempt an overview of the variety of business cases made on behalf of big data. Perhaps after doing so we can gain clearer insight into who is using big data and how big data contributes value. An overview of the discussion suggests there are three distinct arguments, and a number of distinct variations within these arguments. We take a look at each of these arguments, treating each of these arguments as a thought experiment about the role of big data in society. Then we evaluate the respective merits of each argument in light of where actual expenditure seems to be occurring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-9
Number of pages3
JournalIEEE Engineering Management Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2014


  • big data
  • industries
  • organizations
  • decision making
  • investment
  • data mining
  • computing technology


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