New research from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that collecting, storing, and mining big data for insights can create significant value for the world economy, enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of companies and the public sector and creating a substantial economic surplus for consumers. The report Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity explores the state of digital data, how different domains can use large data sets to create value, and the implications for the leaders of private-sector companies and public-sector organizations, as well as for policy makers. The report’s analysis is supplemented by a detailed examination of five domains—health care, retailing, the public sector, manufacturing, and personal-location data.

MGI’s analysis shows that companies and policy makers must tackle significant hurdles to fully capture big data’s potential. The United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical and managerial expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on the study of big data (exhibit). Companies and policy makers must also tackle misaligned incentives around issues such as privacy and security, access to data, and technology deployment.

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