I know what you’re probably thinking…Ugh, data??? Borrrring! I totally get it…so many of us live in a world where “data” is a dirty word that reminds us of a row on a spreadsheet or a line item on a tax return.

But take a few moments and allow yourself to be intrigued by the new face of data that is unfolding as part of the Big Data Revolution: where massive quantities of dull looking data points are being transformed into beautiful works of art that can open your mind and change your life…a bit dramatic, I know.

Over the last decade or so, the digital age has created a new ecosystem in which the world is a smaller place. We are more connected with the rest of the world than ever before, and this higher level of interconnectedness has led to an increased level of technology consumption. For many of us, it’s hard to even imagine life before social outlets such as Facebook. They are such a part of our daily lives now and old friends about whom we used to wonder are now telling us every time they walk their dog. In turn, this increased consumption has led to an outright explosion of data.

Consider this: According to Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman at Google, we now create as much data every TWO DAYS as all of the data that was created from the dawn of human civilization to the year 2003! The average person today is exposed to more data in a single day than a person in the 16th Century was in their entire lifetime!

Yes, you are a part of it! Even if you are not a regular Tweeter or Pinterester, you are still contributing heavily to this data-plosion. Just think for a minute about the data you create on a daily basis…every email you send, every photo you upload to the internet, every job order you open or candidate you submit, every purchase you make, every phone call you make!

Most of this data has thus far been collected and stored in massive data warehouses, allowed to grow dusty because we weren’t prepared to deal with it. Finally, though, the technology and skill sets are catching up and we are awakening to a world of new possibilities. A new breed of geniuses called “Data Scientists” is coming forward to help create new solutions to old problems. While their title can be misleading – I have often called them “Data Artists” and others have called them “Data Storytellers” or even “Data Whisperers” – and while the exact skill set required to be one of them is still fuzzy, one thing is for sure: they have a unique ability to find hidden relationships in massive, mind-numbing datasets and bring that forward in a way that is both artistically pleasing and potentially revolutionary in its level of insight.

One such Data Scientist is Chris Harrison, who has mapped everything from Google word associations to Wikipedia interconnections to cross-references in the Bible. He builds beautiful, yet informative visualizations such as the one below, where each bar represents a chapter in the bible – the bar length is the number of verses – and each arc represents a reference to another chapter, colored by the distance between them, giving a rainbow effect. 

By recognizing these new opportunities and harnessing this data, we can now participate in this new ecosystem in ways not yet realized. We can revisit questions and problems that before seemed out of reach and boldly ask new questions that once seemed impossible to know the answers to.

Other industries have already seen a massive transformation from the impact of the digital age….the age of Big Data is set up to continue this transformation. In the continuation of this posting, we will explore some of these stories and think about the some of the possibilities within the Staffing industry.

 

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