This burgeoning market crosses all industries and sectors and aims to organize, analyze, and strategize using the terabytes of data we create each day.
By the Numbers
35.7%: Annual profit margin of business analytics and enterprise software, according to IBISWorld
631: Number of enterprises expected to exist in 2017
36,281: Projected number of people employed in the business analytics and enterprise software industry in 2017
3.8%: Projected annual revenue increase in the business analytics and enterprise software industry from 2012 to 2017
15 (out of 17): Number of sectors in the U.S. that have more data stored, per company, than the U.S. Library of Congress, according to McKinsey & Company
Why It's Hot
In an increasingly digitized world, everything you do creates an electronic record—every purchase, doctor's visit, or instance you "friend" someone on Facebook.
As organizations continue to amass hundreds of terabytes of that information, they are looking for more sophisticated software tools to mine and analyze it, to help businesses better understand their markets and customers, and even predict what's next.
According to the market research firm IDC, "big data" companies that address these needs had sales of $3.2 billion in 2010. Total industry revenue is expected to reach nearly $17 billion by 2015, growing about seven times faster than the overall IT market.
And while the business analytics and enterprise software sector of IT (which includes "big data") has remained steady over the past few years, growing 1.8% from 2007 to 2012, according to IBISWorld, the firm says improvements in profit margin--now at 36%, on average--have been fueled by the acquisition of companies that offer data services.
Large vendors have targeted smaller companies as a means to expand their own customer bases and product offerings. IBM recently purchased several big data firms, including Netezza, which makes data warehouse appliances, for $1.7 billion. Other major acquisitions include Oracle's reported $1.1 billion purchase of enterprise search company Endeca, as well as Hewlett-Packard's $350 million purchase of data analytics platform Vertica, last year.
Barriers to Entry
As consolidation continues, it might become more difficult to pry market share from these giant firms. But if a quick exit is top of mind, and you've got some pretty high-level degrees--in, say, computer science, software engineering, or market research--the burgeoning big data industry might be the place for you to start a business.
J.J. MCCORVEY is a reporter at Inc. magazine, where he covers a wide range of topics, including technology and business research. He has covered metro news for The Detroit News, and his work has been featured in Men's Fitness. @jmccorvey