Big Data: The Future of Massachusetts

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to address a group of legislators, public officials, and industry leaders to launch Massachusetts’ inaugural Tech Hub Caucus, led by Senator Karen Spilka. The event kicked off a dialogue between leaders in the state’s tech sector and members of the Massachusetts legislature.

Technology is the fastest growing industry in Massachusetts, responsible for more than 468,000 jobs, $122 billion in direct and indirect economic output, and $5.6 billion in state and local taxes. Innovations driven by the tech sector support the critical pillars of our state’s economy: healthcare, education, financial services and increasingly, state and local government. Yet, Massachusetts cannot take the growth of the tech sector for granted.

During the last 20 years, we have witnessed the growth of the technology industry in other regions — not just in Silicon Valley, but also in the state of Washington, in Austin, Texas, in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, and more recently in New York City. Fortune magazine noted that New York-based technology startups raised nearly $1.7 billion in 2012, compared to the $1.4 billion raised by Massachusetts startups.

In our business, we worry about disruption from below. A leading company’s market share rarely gets overtaken by someone larger. It’s almost always done by the up and comers. In our quest to keep Massachusetts on the leading edge of innovation and to encourage entrepreneurs, we must make sure that we strengthen the environment for tomorrow’s technologies to be developed here.

The public and private sectors need to continue to work together to ensure that Massachusetts continues to be not only a national leader, but among the global leaders in science and technology and new company formation. And we have that opportunity now in the form of Big Data. Businesses, the healthcare industry, universities and governments are awash with data. Petabytes of data are rapidly accumulating in all aspects of society, driven by dramatic growth of interactive websites, social networks, online transactions, and smart phones. This data is coming at us fast, it is big, and it is rich with opportunity. Making the most of this data to solve problems will transform and accelerate the growth of our state’s core industries.

To support innovation and entrepreneurship for the benefit of Massachusetts, we must make sure that we build and retain talent for the innovation economy, improve the ease and cost of doing business in Massachusetts and commit to making Massachusetts the Big Data capitol of the world. We cannot miss out on this opportunity to lead the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

About the Author: Bill Teuber