It’s Huge, It’s Terrifying, and It’s Coming After Businesses of All Sizes. Its Name is Big Data

Crash! Ratatatatatatat! Rahhhhhhwwwr! Boom!

Crash! Ratatatatatatat! Rahhhhhhwwwr! Boom!

Those sounds are not the Japanese military battling Godzilla but instead a network administrator that didn’t take the proper precautions to prepare for the rapid growth of customer data, financial data, inventory data, supplier data and employee data. All that stuff that we recently have been just lumping together under the name “Big Data.” However, Big Data presents a tremendous opportunity to Canadian startups.

Three weeks ago in Toronto, several of the world’s most innovative companies across many industries connected at the Big Data Innovation Summit. They, along with a few public sector organizations got together to brain storm, collaborate and tell stories of best practices of managing, mining, and mitigating risk pertaining to Big Data.

Several businesses that you would expect (and a few that you wouldn’t) presented very different perspectives at the Summit. The Globe and Mail discussed their big data story as well as the variety of tools they use to store, protect, and drill into vast repositories of structured and unstructured data. Google presented how they saw the Big Data world, including how data can be mined to predict trends in business. The Weather Network presented on the great lengths that they go to every day using sophisticated tools to predict weather across the country and around the world with the most finite detail. Samatha Liscio from the Ontario Government presented on Public Sector Challenges with big data, and there were other talks by Aveda, Blackberry and other traditional companies with lots of information and critical needs to make the best use of it.

Somewhat surprisingly, Bit Torrent presented a the otherwise conservative affair. Sure Bit Torrent has great technology to expedite the download/Peer to Peer transfer of large amounts of data but aren’t these the guys that facilitate illegal media downloads?



Big Data, for the most part, is the domain of the upper end of the food chain as far as enterprises however many entrepreneurial startups are recognizing the opportunity to be had in the Big Data space.

One of the Big Data Innovation Summit’s co-sponsors, bnotions is a startup that develops web, mobile and social solutions for dealing with Big Data. Bnotions redeveloped The Score Mobile App which has been called the best sports app out there delivering the best updates on sporting events. They also developed an app for Vu Digital which mines the vastness of the internet for news stories. The Vu app was voted one of the Top 10 Made in Canada apps in the app store. bnotions also supports/incubates app developers and startups in their open concept office space. 

Ottawa’s Openera is a startup that helps companies and individuals automatically Identify, Classify and Auto-File important documents, emails and files into repositories such as Box.Net, Google Drive, SkyDrive or other popular Cloud file management systems. With e-mails and other unstructured data taking up a large percentage of the Big Data ecosystem, Openera has a strategic advantage by offering a solution that works with many different platforms instead of being locked into just one Cloud storage provider.

When you think of Startups you wouldn’t usually think of a company that was founded in 1999. However after receiving a record $80 million in venture capital funding and growing rapidly in Kitchener Waterloo, Desire2Learn is focused on delivering big educational data to seven hundred clients and eight million students. Vast amounts of content web, document and other educational content can be stored with Dropbox or SkyDrive and D2L provides content delivery around the clock and applies predictive analytics to provide valuable insights to improve completion rates. Desire2Learn was also a presenter at the Big Data Innovation Summit.

Other successful Canadian Big Data Startups include Coveo, an Analytics and Search company in Quebec City, and Edmonton’s Granify that focusses on “providing a SaaS solution that enables online retailers to maximize their sales by using cutting edge big data and machine learning technologies” according to their Web site.

According to this article in Techvibes and many other sources, startups that present solutions to managing, analyzing, and adding value to Big Data are to venture capitalists what honey is to bees. If you have been working on a software application that solves a Big Data problem, get your pitch ready.

Otherwise, you may want to consider a pivot to this lucrative niche in the information management industry.