How To Get Paid From The Big Data Revolution

Quiz time. What do Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), and Google parent Alphabet (Nasdaq: GOOG) have in common? Aside from being four of the largest companies in the world, of course…

In a word: data. They use a ton of it. That’s the common thread that ties these four companies together.

But they’re not the only ones. The world revolves around data these days. Thousands of companies depend on data in one way or another. And you and I do, too.

For example, I just got a whopper of a home internet bill from AT&T. It seems we went over our allotted 150 monthly gigabytes of data usage. For perspective, that’s enough to download 1,000 MP3 songs, watch 1,000 YouTube videos, browse 10,000 web pages, or watch 25 high-definition movies.

Yet, we needed more – which AT&T is happy to provide, in 50-gig increments for $10 each.

Personally, I don’t access the internet much outside of work. But I’m definitely in the tiny minority there. According to cellphone maker Ericsson, mobile data traffic has soared by nearly 80% over the past year. And with 5G service on the horizon (supporting blazing-fast download speeds 100 times faster than 4G), it’s expected to surge another five-fold by 2024.

More Devices = More Data

To know where we are going, it helps to first see where we’ve been. In 1992, global internet traffic was a mere 100 gigabytes per day. By 1997, usage was up to 100 GB per hour. And by 2002, it stood at 100 GB per second. Today, usage exceeds 50,000 GB per second. In a single day, the world makes 5 billion online searches and sends 294 billion emails.

Snap your fingers. In that brief instant, more data flowed around the world than was sent in an entire year back in the mid-90s. And by 2022, global internet traffic will have tripled again to 150,000 GB per second.

Cisco has compiled all kinds of dizzying projections on data usage over the next three years.

For instance, the number of internet-connected devices will rise to 28 billion by 2022 – more than three times the Earth’s population. Mobile traffic will grow twice as fast as that from fixed devices (46% annually to 23%). Video game traffic will rise 55% annually (nine-fold overall), while virtual reality traffic will spike 65% per year (or 12-fold).

There are multiple trends fueling this growth. One is the cord-cutting phenomenon, where viewers are canceling cable or satellite service in droves and watching television over the internet instead. Another is the proliferation of internet-connected devices – the internet of things (IoT) – such as smart utility meters and front door video surveillance systems.

What The Heck Is A Zettabyte?

More devices, wider bandwidth, larger files, richer graphics, faster download speeds. It’s a recipe for mind-boggling data consumption. It’s also a recipe for profits. (We’ll get to that in a second.)

Here’s what it boils down to…

Cisco is forecasting annual global internet traffic to reach an astronomical 4.8 zettabytes by 2022. A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes, roughly equivalent to 4.9 quadrillion books. Here’s a visual. If each gigabyte in a zettabyte were a brick, this would be enough data to build the Great Wall of China more than 1,000 times.

data growth chart

As you might imagine, it takes considerable infrastructure to make all this possible. And that means opportunity for investors.

But before you start thinking about Apple, Amazon, or some other big tech name, you need to know that’s not the play here. The big growth days for those companies are already in the rear-view mirror. And besides, if you like dividends, you can forget about it. Cell tower owners are one possible option. But you need to think bigger…

How To Profit From This Trend

The greater the world’s appetite for data, the fiercer the demand for data centers.

Racks upon racks of servers and other hardware take up a lot of floor space. They also draw exorbitant power and need cool environments to keep from overheating. Most IT departments have found that instead of keeping all this equipment in-house, it makes financial sense to rent space in a dedicated facility called a data center.

data center

Numerous renters typically occupy a single building known as a colocation center (or “carrier hotel”). There are plenty of interested parties ranging from tiny website hosting companies and online retailers to colossal data storage providers and telecoms. Some of the biggest users include content distributors such as Disney and Netflix, as well as cloud companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM.

Once the hardware has been installed on these campuses, renters are reluctant to move – and not just because of the hassle and expense. They often make connections with neighbors. Furthermore, every minute of website downtime can mean millions in lost revenue, so companies are reluctant to do anything that could disrupt network availability.

That switching cost can be a powerful competitive advantage for incumbent leaders. Needless to say, renters want full assurance that their data and mission-critical operations are protected. These data centers have redundant backup power generators, advanced fire protection systems and other safeguards. Many are also equipped with biometric scanners and other security systems. Shared infrastructure means lower costs for renters. And there are other advantages… reduced IT staffing, ample bandwidth, ultra-high reliability up to 99.9999% (downtime measured in minutes per year).

Action To Take

Demand for data-center space has grown at a rapid clip around the globe, fueling strong returns for the companies that own these specialized properties. There are plenty to choose from for investors who are interested. Even better, they pay safe, generous dividends backed by these recurring payments. And as the need for data grows, so will those payouts.

I’ve identified one that I think is the best-positioned to deliver strong income and total returns to investors, but we simply don’t have the time to get into that today.

All you need to know for now is that this is one of the reasons why I recently made one of the most controversial calls of my career

I recently told my readers that they should sell Apple. I know, it sounds crazy…

But if you’re an income investor, then you need to strongly consider whether investing your hard-earned money in a company that only pays 1.2% is even worth your time. The same goes for Netflix, Google, Amazon…

Fortunately, as I’ve just described, there’s a better way… With little-known “backdoor” investments like data centers (and more), you can earn more than you ever thought possible from big tech. If you’d like to learn more, simply follow this link.