The incredible growth in the power of IT, together with the tumbling costs of technology, have brought profound changes to our lives and businesses. The most noticeable change is the shift to “always-on” expectations. We expect processes to happen faster. Our organizations work on a more real-time basis.
A less obvious but equally important result is the massive increase in the volume, variety, and velocity of data. The world is producing great quantities of data and the amounts are about to get exponentially larger with the dawn of the Internet of Things.
So we're nearing the point where marveling at the technical achievements of IT is giving way to realization that managing and exploiting data is a real challenge – and opportunity. This struck me with new force when reading about big data and genomics. Barely 20 years ago, sequencing one genome was time-consuming, complex, and expensive. Now it's routine and cheap. So much so that “sequencing is merely data gathering for the biology”. But: “This deluge of data needs more standardised metadata – from which true insight will come.”
We've been here before and we'll be here again. As a domain moves from exploratory to production phases, prototypes are superseded by products, pioneering is replaced by processes, and disparate data is organized into coherent frameworks. For once, “paradigm shift” is an apt term.
Here's an authentic voice from the heart of the paradigm shift: “When I first heard about these standards developments, I was bored almost to tears. But now I realize that this is a very important aspect of getting the most out of genome data.” This researcher tells how, without full data standards for the domain, it's very hard to relate gene sequences to organs and body systems.
The movement for standards in genomic sciences is timely and well led. I wish everyone in the field success. I hope people in other walks of life will take note of their guiding principles – especially the advice that standards enable true insight. BioMed Central