Syndicate content

Big Data

Attention governments: Big Data is a game changer for businesses

Alla Morrison's picture
Also available in: 中文


When I speak about big data with government leaders in our client countries around the world, I often find that many have some awareness of big data, but for many, that's where the story ends. Most are not sure how it is going to affect them or what they should do. Most leaders are largely unaware that the impact of big data is likely to be broad and deep. What governments do (or fail to do) will likely shape up the competitiveness of their countries' businesses for the next generation.  

In countries further along on its adoption curve, big data has already started to transform not only the information technology sector but almost every business in every industry. Incorporation of big data today is analogous in many ways to the transformative effect of electricity on industries in the 19th century. While electricity production and distribution became an industry in itself, it also led businesses in all sectors to redesign their processes to take advantage of this new resource, leading to unprecedented productivity gains of the Second Industrial Revolution. It isn't surprising therefore that at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, there was much talk about the global economy being on a brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, fueled by big data enabled innovations. Governments in emerging economies cannot afford to be left out of this conversation. 

In this blog I hope to show how big data, as a new resource – one that is abundant and rapidly growing – is transforming the business environment and changing the way companies compete with each other. I will also offer suggestions for actions and policies that governments can initiate to position their economies for the advent of the so-called Big Data Revolution, and show that if they don't, they risk losing market share to more digital data-savvy competitors. Finally, I will share a new tool: Open Data for Business (OD4B) Assessment and Engagement Tool, that the World Bank has launched to help governments lay the foundation for the use of one type of big data – open government data – by the private sector.

Big Data needs better questions

Elizabeth Sabet's picture

The term "big data" is much in the news lately – alternatingly touted as the next silver bullet potentially containing answers to myriad questions on natural and human dynamics, and dismissed by others as hype.  We are only beginning to discover what value exists in the vast quantities of information we have today, and how we are now capable of generating, storing, and analyzing this information. But how can we begin to extract that value?  More importantly, how can we begin to apply it to improving the human condition by promoting development and reducing poverty?
 
That is precisely the question that motivated the World Bank Group and Second Muse to collaborate on the recently released report Big Data in Action for Development. Interviews with big data practitioners around the world and an extensive review of literature on the topic led us to some surprising answers.

Igniting the Data Revolution Post-2015 Now

Grant Cameron's picture

What sparks a revolution? And what helps keep the transformational power of a revolution alive?  When Jim Yong Kim became World Bank Group president less than two years ago, he stated that one of his first priorities was to position the World Bank Group as a “solutions bank.”  Most recently, during his speech last Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Kim discussed the Bank’s efforts to invest in effective infrastructure, including data systems and social movements to empower the poor.

These three words – solutions, data and the poor – from my perspective, point to this: the data revolution needs to be transformational and we must act now.   Unless we fully embrace this data revolution as a bold, timely opportunity to engage citizens, identify successful case studies, leverage global partnerships and technology, strive to learn from the private sector and truly aim to be innovative, we just may miss out on keeping this revolution alive.  And while it is good news that the UN High Level Panel Report on the post-2015 development agenda confirms that the data revolution is high on the political agenda, we must also gather evidence and vigorously commit to an inclusive plan to meet this goal.

How I Use World Bank Data: Researching Access to Electricity

Dong Yang's picture
Also available in: Español | 中文 | العربية | Français

Dong Yang is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He majors in public administration. Dong got in touch with us to share his experience using World Bank Data as part of his research.

William Shakespeare once wrote, “There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes.”  Similarly, different people have different understandings of database services. Some people believe it is a type of personalized service, some believe it’s a value-added service, while others believe it’s a solutions-driven service. For us students, database services are vital to our research.
 
As a form of knowledge service, databases should be adapted to the changing needs of users, supporting both knowledge consumption and knowledge creation. A good database helps not only to convert “data” into “outcomes,” but also achieve the goal of pooling wisdom and creating knowledge by enhancing a user’s creativity with its rich resources and services. In my view, the World Bank’s Open Data has truly fulfilled these functions.

Data and Development

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture

WASHINGTON, DC – Since the turn of the century, the international development community has rallied behind the Millennium Development Goals, which set specific targets in eight key areas, including poverty, child mortality, and disease, to be achieved by 2015. In formulating the post-2015 development agenda, measuring the MDGs’ successes – and identifying where progress has lagged – is critically important. And that demands more and better data.

To be sure, international institutions and many developing countries have invested significantly in improving data collection to track better their performance against MDG targets. In 2003, only four countries had two data points for 16 or more of the 22 principal MDG indicators; by last year, that figure had soared to 118 countries.

But development data remain a scarce resource in the developing world. Given their value in measuring – and propelling – social and economic progress, this shortage must be addressed urgently. A catalyst is needed to expand the production and use of development data. With this in mind, the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda is right to call for a global “data revolution.”