It’s not about data, it’s about what you do with it


To really understand exponential growth think about the game of chess. The Gupta emperor asked one of his wise men to make a game for him in the 6thcentury and as payment he can ask for anything as a reward. The wise man created chess and its 64 squares. As reward the wise man said he wanted to be paid with rice, exponentially. So on the first square was one corn of rice, 2nd square 2 corns, on the 3rd square 4 corns and so on. The emperor was shocked that the wise man wanted such a pittance and readily agreed but when they got to the 64th square there was not enough rice in the Gupta empire to pay the wise man…  So the legend goes and so goes exponential growth.

These days the most prominent example of exponential growth is Moore’s law. And if you have been at a party with Nerds, there will always be some of them geeking out on Moore’s law. But what is it? Wikipedia states that Moore’s law is the following:
“Moore’s law is the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. The period often quoted as “18 months” is due to Intel executive David House, who predicted that period for a doubling in chip performance (being a combination of the effect of more transistors and their being faster).[1]

For us that work in other industries this has generally meant nothing, but let’s break it down –

Transistors crunch data (information work that clerks use to do). They crunch it at incredible speeds and this speed doubles every 18 months because of Moore’s Law. You can feed any data into it and if you asked the right question every 18 months you receive your answer double so fast as the previous 18 months.

This is still too techy for most people. But the basic gist is that we are understanding info ever faster, seeing patterns in behavior ever faster, and making contingency plans ever faster. The reason:  the hardware gets stronger.

It’s with this that the first dot com boom came into being. People tried to monetize data. The challenge here was that the focus was on the data but not on the data output. We see remnants of these failed business models everywhere and people still try them.  That’s the visible business revolution that gets written about in the tech and main stream press. The failure of Facebook, Digg, Myspace etc.

The silent revolutions that have been happening in the bricks and mortar industries are HUGE. These invisible revolutions are changing everything. The funny thing is that the ICT companies that implement these changes in the bricks and mortar companies do not know that they are also being affected by it. 3 Years ago Larry Ellison the CEO of one of the great data enablement companies Oracle said that his company will never invest in the cloud. This week he launched Oracle’s cloud services. The future happens, whether you want to or not.

So some industries examples where this exponential growth is as clear as daylight



The ability to crunch data faster has led to faster solar product adoption which has led to lower cost which has led to faster Market penetration




It’s clear that as soon as they bootstrapped Moore’s law onto the retail industry the speed of serious innovation kicked in. The web-ecommerce revolution lasted only about 10 years and is now mainstream.



The cost of peering 1 Mbps of data in 1998 was $1200. Today (2012) its $2

Make no mistake, the theory of accelerating change is:

Moore’s law BOOTSTRAPPED on ALL industries.

The smartphone that you hold in your hand to check the train times via an app? That smartphone is proof that you are part of the experience and living in the future.