Big Data set to be a key driver for the US economy

By July 30, 2013
courbe de croissance économique

Consulting firm McKinsey identifies Big Data as one of five key areas for reviving sustainable growth and boosting job creation in the United States.


While Big Data gets a lot of air time in the world of startups and among high tech fans, it remains to be seen where it stands among the major global macroeconomic indicators. In its latest report, Game changers: Five opportunities for US growth and renewal, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) places Big Data among the five ‘game changers’ that are likely to underpin economic growth over the next ten years. MGI has pinpointed Big Data alongside energy, trade, education and infrastructure on the basis of a rigorous analysis of the US economy and the factors which will impact it most across multiple sectors.

Big Data a critical driver of US productivity

The report points out that right now the US economy is ideal ground for sustainable growth driven by Big Data. Today the United States possesses one third of all available global data and boasts cutting-edge research centers and startup companies. The McKinsey experts think Big Data analytics are just as important as energy and trade because they can potentially deliver an efficient response to the current lower US productivity due to the country’s fast-aging workforce. To offset this trend, productivity needs to rise by over 30%, says MGI, pointing out that this would be the first time productivity has achieved such a hike since the 1960s. To take the example of retailing, Big Data tools can have an immediate impact by making more accurate forecasts on how many people will pass through a store, and thus help to organize the required staffing levels. Big Data analytics could also bring savings amounting to close to $300 billion in the fields of health and local government, says the report.

Cross-sector potential to be exploited

The ‘Game Changers’ report warns however that growth will only be really optimized if mutual synergies across all five sectors can be achieved. For instance, if Big Data is to be properly exploited, it will be essential to counter the current shortage of human capital by investing both in education and lifelong learning for company employees. McKinsey is predicting a deficit of close to 200,000 data scientists and 1.5 million managers with the necessary skillsets by 2018.  While the four other sectors are expected to grow in parallel, Big Data itself should generate 2 million additional jobs and help to boost GDP by some $320 billion by 2020, reckons MGI.


Thomas Meyer

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas