How Big Data Relates to Another Disruptive Technology – The Microscope

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Theme: Disruptive Technology

Big Data is currently one of the most covered topics in technology today.  However, in order to gain perspective on why it dominates discussions of modern IT, science, and business, it actually turns out that we can examine the innovation that opened research to aspects of our world that are not so big.

Erik Brynjolfsonn, MIT Sloan Professor and director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, views Big Data not as a fad but as a “measurement revolution” that is in the process of completely redefining executive leadership and decision making. To understand its impact on our world, he claims, we can look to the 15th century invention of the microscope.

Anton van Leeuwenhoek invented the device and kept technical letters detailing the life forms that he discovered. However, we must keep in mind how truly radical the idea of microorganisms were in such an age. It took time for the scientific establishment of the time to come to terms with the existence of life forms that were too small for the eye to see. However, the ability to view objects at this level eventually became crucial to nearly all of the scientific innovations of the last few hundred years, from medical breakthroughs to microprocessors.

Big Data, of course, operates on the macro-scale. However, it currently gives us the ability to find patterns within the complex workings of our world, too large for us to see, with a level of detail analogous to the microscope. For example, Big Data techniques have been used with demographic data to allocate medical resources for underserved populations that are at-risk for heart ailments.

Like the microscope during its early days, there is a certain incredulity given to the promises of big data. However, the insights that have already been discovered through this field, which is in relative infancy, point to a revolution as great as the one that allowed us to study the smallest of life forms.

Our CarePathways solutions are designed to go beyond the hype of big data, rather providing realization of how benchmarking, analytics and productive modeling can be used beyond just digitizing care.  While we’ve introduced solutions over the past year, much more is before as we collective work together to shape a new model of care and most important the continued evolution of how care is provided.  At our recent westExchange I had the opportunity to speak with many of our clients as they shared their dreams, connecting them to the realities and possibilities of today.  I continue to believe we find ourselves in one of the most exciting times in health care as we build tomorrows solutions today.

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