Big Data Startups News

Wikibon’s Jeff Kelly bravely put a stake in the ground recently, first among IT market observers, by estimating the big data market at $5 billion, growing to $50 billion in five years. Kelly’s 5/50/5 plan is a great guide to the initial jostling for market position in this very promising and very emerging market. it shows that most–if not all–of the innovation in big data came from startups, and some have already been acquired by established IT firms.

The big data market, as defined by Wikibon, includes the hardware, software, and services designed to address the shortcomings of traditional data base technologies in handling large data sets. This means that the $5 billion estimate is a conservative one as it represents a narrow market, the market comprised of what we could call the hardware, software, and services platforms for big data.

It makes sense.  When a new IT segment emerges, usually most of the innovation is focused on trying to define a dominant platform, a “standard” that most applications eventually adhere to.

But even in these early days for big data, we already find startups that are building new big data applications, making the market probably already larger than $5 billion.

Take, for example, metaLayer, the audience choice award at the just concluded Strata 2012 conference. metaLayer wants to “democratize data platforms” with its “drag and drop” data visualization application, believing that “asking simple questions about the world’s information shouldn’t require years of special training.” It just went a step further by launching a community for its users to share visualizations they’ve made with its service. “We want to do to data analysis what Apple has done to computers: Make data so intuitive that anyone can gather insights from tons of data,” metaLayer Chief executive Chris Burrage told VentureBeat.

Another example, going further into the realm of big data applications, in this case for the health care market, is QI Healthcare. It was founded to commercialize technology developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. QI Healthcare’s first product is called Surgical Outcomes Collection System (SOCS), and has been in use at Cincinnati Children’s for more than a year. The SOCS application aggregates data from various hospital systems, including electronic medical records, to enable “institution-wide analyses of cases to identify opportunities to improve patient care.”

Staying with the health care market and keeping in mind that successful analysis of health care data depends very much on the quality of data collected, Tonic Health wants to ‘Gamify’ the forms patients fill in Doctor’s offices. According to Xconomy, “it’s borrowing principles of video gaming and consumer marketing to help healthcare organizations collect better data from patients. The idea is to create customizable patient intake forms that a patient can fill out with a few finger swipes on an iPad, instead of the usual pen and paper forms.”

Applications for big data collection, management, analysis, and display will proliferate, making the big data market larger than $50 billion by 2017, I believe. Big data is everywhere, just waiting to be tapped by enterprising entrepreneurs. And in some unexpected places: Here’s commentary by another Kelly, David Kelly, on some of the possibilities for big data applications for education in general and employee training in particular.