Before the internet arrived, I used to be an equity analyst. I'd spend my days finding and arranging metaphorical jigsaw pieces to come up with a complete picture and an investment recommendation, which the sales guys would disseminate by telephoning their favorite clients first, and the ones they didn't like so much a bit later.

Today, at asset management companies and other financial institutions, there are still large teams of analysts and portfolio managers, sifting through data, developing investment theses and making asset allocation decisions. The difference is that we are deluged in data. Not only is the amount of data available to us accelerating, the nature of it is changing, with new sources of information being seen as potentially relevant for analysis.

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