Six Trends Shaking up the Big Data Ecosystem

There are big changes ahead for big data.

GUEST COLUMN | by Justine Griffin

More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every single day. (That’s 2.5 followed by 18 zeroes!) This nearly unimaginable volume is, unsurprisingly, expected to rise due to the growing mobile and cloud-computing traffic and the burgeoning development and adoption of technologies including IoT and AI.

These rather interesting times for the big data ecosystem are about to become even more so—with ramifications for everyone involved in edtech.

Here are six trends we all need to keep an eye on:

As Big Data Grows Larger, Certain Expectations Will Climb Higher

Those who have to engage with big data—which, let’s face it, is nearly every student, faculty and administrator these days—want easy access and analysis.

‘Those who have to engage with big data—which, let’s face it, is nearly every student, faculty and administrator these days—want easy access and analysis.’

And they want them both quickly. While most everyone generally understands that data grows larger by the day, they also expect, perhaps fairly, that we who design the tools to access and analyze data are coming up with ever-better and ever-faster solutions. Companies that don’t make things easier and faster for their education customers will be left behind like the days when data was stored on disks and tapes.

Those with Big Data Skills in Education will be in Demand

When it comes to job opportunities and security, those with big data skills are in the catbird’s seat. Data science has been the top job on Glassdoor for the last four years. In recent weeks, the number of U.S. data-related jobs posted on LinkedIn has been hovering around 30,000. And it’s not just software firms that are increasingly in need of data wizards; it’s also school districts, universities, libraries and education-focused think tanks and non-profits. You can expect titles such as “Chief Data Officer” to become commonplace at educational institutions of various types.

Librarians Have a Key Role to Play in our Big Data World

As this article from Discover Data Science, librarians are excellent managers and organizers of information. They are also adept at communicating strategies and resources that can help drive data investigation and learning. This is why the “new librarian”—one who can offer helpful resources for data scientists, research faculty and students—will be a transformational link between data science and library science. University librarians, in particular, are also in a special position to help prepare students for their big-data future. Librarians will be among those on campus advocating for more partnerships and projects with the business community to ensure students are better prepared for the data-drenched future.

Big Data, Yes; Big Infrastructure, Not so Much

Big data customers in education want access to ever broader data sets but without having to make investment in infrastructure. They want to know that the architecture is in place for their students and faculty to do their work, but all within a pre-existing environment requiring little, if anything, of the institution in terms of infrastructure. Expect to see lots more of the “big data as a service” model. On a related note, you can also anticipate more “self-service” research offerings for schools and universities, as this frees up librarians from administering passwords and such so that they can add value by, for instance, helping students and faculty shape their research.

A Greater Emphasis on Compliance

As data grows in volume—and, at least in some cases, value—so do efforts to ensure copyright compliance. This can be tricky in the education realm, since so many people will potentially access and use the data. As such, look for ever-greater attention on compliance matters. Be prepared to find solutions that help ensure compliance and limit the potential for misuses that can result in legal exposure and/or financial penalties. Add “Data Compliance Officer” to the list of job titles you’ll encounter more frequently.

Data Sets will Receive Increasing Scrutiny

It stands to reason that as big data grows, so do the odds of receiving off-the-mark data sets, and from less-than-reputable sources. This is where volume of data and the degree to which it is enriched are particularly important to data set integrity. As such, solutions that consistently return high-quality, accurate and complete data sets will slay their competitors, save rework and protect individual and institutional reputations.  


Justine Griffin is general manager for the academic market at Nexis® Solutions, part of LexisNexis®. In March 2021, her team launched Nexis Data Lab, a cloud-based data mining and analysis tool that allows students and academic researchers to search across the Nexis news archive. Write to:


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