At a conference held in Paris on 13 March, L'Atelier BNP Paribas, which has been identifying technological innovations in all sectors for more than 35 years, revisited the underlying mechanisms driving Big Data.

This phenomenon began in the late 1990s. The Internet had reached new orders of magnitude: the first the million website ceiling was broken and hundreds of millions of web pages were created. This massification led to the need to move to automatic – instead of human – calculations to estimate the value of the web's content.

This explosion in the volume of data traffic continued throughout the 2000s with the creation of the mobile Internet and social networks. Only a handful of companies had the resources to deploy an infrastructure that was capable of mining the base of users that these new behaviours represented. These companies are the Digital Dragons of the Internet, such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple.

Having built the infrastructure that supports the digitalization of information, the Big Data industry created marketing models based on the management of data and of user behaviour.
Netflix is a prime example of this. Today, 75% of the content viewed on this streaming platform is suggested via Cinematch, a personalised recommendations engine that takes subscribers' tastes and opinions into account.
Management by data is gaining considerable ground, particularly in the online video game industry. These techniques make it possible to improve a company's understanding of players and to build their loyalty by offering well-matched products.

The exploitation of data is having an impact on many non-digital sectors. For example, the use of data from mobile devices and social media makes it possible to optimise the tourism economy. These initiatives also presage the concept of the smart city: a city equipped with sensors that collect data and feed it back the form of municipal information distributed to residents through mobile applications and the Internet.

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