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Big Data – A Trend Yet to Emerge in Emerging Economies

“Big Data”, a buzzword that has attracted a lot of attention and set some interesting trends in recent years. Like every emerging trend, big data attracted a lot of support and as well as fierce opposition over the course of its evolution. However, in this post I am not going to talk about transformation of the field and its exponential growth, and would rather focus on the emergence of big data in the developing and absence of it in under developed countries.

Before plunging in the main topic, I must tell you what big data is. As per my naïve yet research-based understanding, I consider big data just like any other data but in bigger quantity. It is important to highlight at this stage that by being small in size does not change the efficacy of any data, so, it should not be inferred that big data is impacting as compare to small data. There are of course, differences between the two, but if read correctly both can reap really good insights.

Now, as the title suggests, I will be focusing on a very specific issue of emergence of big data in yet-to-develop countries. The dust about big data in developed countries has already settled, and by that I mean this term along with its theoretical assumptions have already paved its way into the education as well as commercial sector. There are degrees being offered in renowned institutes that revolve around big data, data science, machine learning and deep learning. Similarly, there is an abundance of jobs that revolve around dealing with big data. However, this quick adaptation to the new trend has not been seen with similar zeal and enthusiasm in lesser developed countries. There are many reasons for that and I am going to talk about few in the following:

Data Generation and Management

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Image source: Freepik

People in less privilege countries are not very prone to create data. There is no uniform infrastructure available for data to be generated and then managed. So, it won’t be wrong saying that there is lack of data that is why there is absence of big data among developing countries. Despite a greater need of extensive and comprehensive data, there is still not enough information collection in a form that can be used for a suitable analysis.

A way to change it: The first order of the business is to implement such infrastructural reforms that allows companies, individuals, or even governments to start mitigating big data generation. This can be done by moving towards soft technology and incorporating it in our day to day life as much as possible. Point to remember though, is that such measures should not be done on the expense of data privacy. So data generation should be promoted whereas illegal snooping should be condemned.

Lack of Resources

One argument that may go in favor of governments in the developing countries is lack of resources. It is true that in order to deal with big data there should be some expert resources and this needs to go down to the very root level of the social fabric. For example, if the education system in any given country is fragile and incapacitated to use latest technology, then it is impossible to expect that it will produce any data to begin with.

A way to change it: Focusing on one sector at a time and completely changing it before moving on to any other sectors can be a way out of the lack of resources issue. Rest assured, while reforming one sector and enabling use of more soft technology will ultimately leak some reforms to other sectors too, hence expediting the whole process of reformation and transition from outdated to latest technology. While this whole process evolves, it will emit significant amount of data that can be used to make better decision on the way.

Early Adapters V/s Laggards

Silhouettes of men racing with winner

Silhouettes of men racing with winner

Image source: Freepik

A known pattern of diffusion for any innovation is that it transpires from innovators and reaches to laggards as it hits the saturation point. In case of big data, it is not difficult to argue that those who innovated the concept and then adapted it will always be on the one end of the spectrum whereas the late majority and laggards will be on the other.

This is the same case in terms of developed and under developed countries. The idea of big data originated in the West and is being flourished there. However, by the time it reaches the opposite side of the diffusion spectrum, the concept of big data will be evolved into something much more advanced. In my understanding, this is not natural but it is definitely the actual phenomena in almost all kinds of innovations.

A way to change it: In order to alter this trend, developing countries can at least try to adapt such innovative concepts and ideas bit sooner. That way they will at least start moving towards the spectrum that is associated with innovators.

End Note

In order to let big data scientists, big data companies, or even big data narrative to emerge in developing countries, there are some decisions to be made and they have to be creative, futuristic and definite. Such decisions are required to be made at both governmental levels as well as individual levels too because private-public partnership can catalyze the whole process of transformation of a society from redundant to advance technology, which is essential for any society to survive and flourish.

Article written by:

Waqas Ejaz is a Media Science Researcher at Technical University of Ilmenau and the co-founder and Marketing Manager of e-Commerce platform TasMart

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