What’s Next With Big Data: A Q&A with ONSET’s Shomit Ghose


ONSET Ventures General Partner Shomit Ghose has witnessed and invested in a variety of major technological disruptions ranging from SaaS and cloud, to Big Data and next generation security. In this post, he discusses some of the key trends in Big Data and how enterprises can take advantage of them.


1. A few years ago you said that big data was the only business model tech had left. Do you still feel that way? And why?


Big Data today is even more firmly entrenched as the only business model that remains in tech. By now, hardware, software and bandwidth have been completely commoditized and are ubiquitous, with the consequence that the supply of data being produced is exploding at ever-faster rates. With everything else commoditized, the only sustainable business value is in monetizing that vast supply of Big Data.


2. As a venture capitalist investing in software companies, what big data trends are you most excited about? IoT, machine learning/AI, deep analytics, others?


The Big Data trend that excites me the most is the ability to apply unsupervised machine learning to enormous volumes of seemingly sparse data, and then finding monetizable business signals within that data. This capability is independent of any specific vertical domain, of course. The investing opportunity lies in combining the insights that machine learning can bring, with a disruptive business model, within a large vertical domain.


3. The volume of data continues to skyrocket just as companies are increasingly aware of the tremendous business value their data holds. What are some of the most common mistakes customers make around their big data infrastructure?


The biggest mistake companies make when embarking on a Big Data strategy is the failure to clearly understand their own business. Without a well-defined, antecedent business use case, it’s impossible to know what Big Data is required, how to acquire it, how it should be interpreted, or whether in the end the Big Data initiative has been successful in improving the bottom line. First and foremost, companies need to begin by understanding the types of insights their business needs.


4. Which markets will see the next wave of big data innovation and why? Agriculture, aviation, health care, eCommerce or others?


I think every industry will be deconstructed and redefined by the advent of data-driven business models; it’s only a matter of time till this happens across the board. But today I’m most excited about the new business models afforded by the absolutely vast streams of data that will be produced by the connected car. The connected car is going to revolutionize automobile usage, and this revolution is going to be driven entirely by data. So just as your cell phone is no longer about the physical device itself but about the applications and data flowing through it, your automobile is about to undergo the same transition. The transition from car-as-your-largest-mechanical-device to car-as-your-largest-computing-device is already underway and will open an entire new universe of opportunity for the software industry.

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