#SMSociety14 Keynote Spotlight: Microsoft’s John Weigelt (@Thumbtackhead) #Toronto

John Weigelt

John Weigelt

What’s the big deal with big data?

“There is a data-driven transformation underway” that impacts our everyday lives, says Microsoft’s National Technology Officer John Weigelt (Weigelt, 2014). John – who advocates for the use of technology by private and public sectors, economic development, innovation, environmental sustainability, accessibility, privacy, and security – will be one of the keynote speakers featured at the upcoming 2014 Social Media & Society Conference (#SMSociety14) in September 2014 in Toronto, Canada.

In a recent blog post, “vision 2020: how our cities will look 60 months from now” he discussed the role of the Internet of Things, Big Data, and the power to drive change. The internet, he writes, is quickly permeating almost every aspect of our lives: from our mobile phones to our refrigerators; as a result, there are over one billion terabytes of data flowing through the internet right now, and by 2020, there may be as many as 26 billion devices connected to the internet (Weigel, 2014). This means that different aspects of our lives will change because of the huge growth of big data. In other words, big data is a big deal.

Not only is big data a big deal, but John suggests that the Canadian economy has a huge opportunity. So, how can Canada benefit from all of this big data? At TEDxManitoba, he outlined how we can Enable Canada’s Economy Digitally. Rather than waiting for others to catch up, he suggests that we need to look 3 to 5 years into the future. How do we do that? Through innovation and people. Innovation involves creating new opportunities or building on existing ones while at the same time bringing creative people together. For John, it’s “not enabling our digital economy, but rather enabling our economy digitally” (Weigelt, 2012).

Not only are we living in a big data world, but we also have big data opportunities that we can seize to move forward.

* Written by Brittany white and Philip Mai



Weigelt, J. (2014). 2020 vision: how our cities will look 60 months from now. Retrieved from: http://www.microsoft.com/government/ww/public-services/blog/Pages/post.aspx?postID=448&aID=31

Weigelt, J. (2012). Enabling Canada’s Economy Digitally. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XmdGp1bymE