Data is the new oil, and the new data-driven economy presents opportunities to make better lives for ourselves and for society.

That’s the message that Young Sohn, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Samsung Electronics and Chairman of the Board, HARMAN International Industries, delivered to the World Knowledge Forum 2017 in Seoul. In his presentation—“Driving Innovation in the Data Economy”—he shared his insights into the changing role of data and the potential opportunities it presents.

His presentation featured some fascinating data, including:

  • Data expansion is accelerating exponentially, with today’s level of 20 zettabytes (a zettabyte is 1021) expected to grow to 160 zettabytes by 2025. Currently, only 3% of this data is tagged and less than 0.5% has been analyzed.
  • The 1st wave of innovation, the personal computer era, began in 1993. The 2nd wave, the internet era, began in 1998. The 3rd wave, the mobile era, began in 2008. We’re just now catching the 4th wave, the new data era, which will take hold by 2020.
  • In 2007, five of the world’s 10 most valuable companies were in the oil industry. Just a decade later, in 2017, seven of the world’s 10 most valuable companies are in the data industry.

That last point underscores the assertion that data is the new oil. Just as oil gave rise to an entire value chain of opportunities—oil exploration and drilling, production, transportation, refining, distribution, and use—so will data. The data-driven value chain includes data generation, data curation, connected platforms, insight gleaned from the data, data presentation, and eventual use.

The new data economy will touch every market and industry on earth, and has the most potential for positive impact in areas such as health, agriculture, mobility, the environment, water, education, and security.  Familiar businesses that have impacted our lives that built on data include Facebook, Lyft, AirBnB, and many others.  With advancements in AI and machine learning, the possibilities to impact our lives worthy to carefully watch and to participate in.

Watch the video of Young Sohn’s presentation to get up to speed on the the fourth industrial wave: