The $7.8 Trillion Market You Can’t Afford To Ignore

If the economic growth attributed to the use of data were a country, it would be the fourth largest economy in the world, just behind Japan in terms of GDP.

According to McKinsey & Co., the flow of data has directly contributed to global GDP growth. In fact, the consultancy firm estimates that from 2004 through 2014, “the openness to global flows has raised world GDP by at least 10%. That’s worth $7.8 trillion alone.”

#-ad_banner-#In other words, without the virtual flow of data, the world would be $7.8 trillion poorer.

In real-world measurements, the number of terabits per second — a measure of data flows — is 45 times higher now than it was less than a decade ago.

This means that data is not only an efficiency, but a good, with a tangible value. And while you can’t trade it on the CME like gold or soybeans, you can trade its leveraging effect by selecting the companies making the most of using data to boost efficiencies and reach customers… or by investing in the digital infrastructure itself.

For example, we’ve seen a huge jump in the number of ecommerce companies and transactions. By some estimates 10-15% of the global goods trade comes from ecommerce. When you look strictly at business-to-business transactions, McKinsey puts that figure closer to 20-25%.

That’s a massive amount of trade originating online. It’s literally changing the face of business, trade, manufacturing and consumer behaviors.

Digital capabilities are allowing businesses to streamline processes, offer customization, and reduce losses and costs. Through technologies like RFID and open platforms, companies are increasing their access to customers and adding to their virtual value.

This translates directly to stronger financial figures.

The use of RFIDs helped Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPE) and BMW logistics centers reduce losses in transit by 11-14%.

Unilever (NYSE: UL) used digital tools to streamline 40 global business service lines between 2009 and 2013… things like the company’s finance department, IT, human resources and facilities management. The result was a “radical simplification” that allows the company’s internal functions to be accessible, transparent and aligned.

This kind of efficiency frees up time, talent and money to focus on driving revenues and ideas. It reduced overhead costs by 200 basis points… And that’s having an impact on share prices.

Over the past five years, share prices have climbed more than 38%.

I’m not recommending you buy Unilever per se… though steady dividends and earnings growth is appealing.

But the companies that can supply the “architecture” that enables businesses to become more efficient and generate more virtual value that hold the real opportunities.

From companies like Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) that make platforms and applications to companies like (NYSE: CRM) that are the ultimate database wizards, the number of opportunities is mind-boggling.

That’s both a blessing and a curse. The field is wide, and with the ever-evolving needs of the digital world, it’s hard to predict which direction to take.

One sure-fire idea is to keep the customer in mind. While efficiencies in manufacturing and logistics help companies become and stay profitable, these “fixes” can sometimes be one-offs. The customer will always be central to a business’ objectives.

Companies that can leverage access to the customer, or provide targeted ways of pulling potential customers into a purchase are going to remain relevant throughout the business’ lifecycle.

So let’s take a look at

Over the past five years, the company’s earnings have grown an average of 19.8% a year. But the next five years will be even better.

Analysts predict earnings growth of 28.6% a year!

Revenue for this year could clock in at 21.8% higher than last year, and next year could see revenues jump another 19.7%. It’s no wonder, with these figures, that analysts are predicting a median price target of $90, roughly 18.5% higher than current prices.

The most ambitious analysts are touting a high price target of $139, or 83% higher than current prices.

And they might be closer to the mark.

Over the past five years, share prices have climbed 126%.

And news this week has teaming up with tech juggernaut Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) to test its Internet of Things cloud software on Amazon’s Web Services public cloud. What this means is that the company could increase its capabilities at a faster rate than it could if all its services were internally housed.

That transfers some of the cost of things like new servers, data centers and personnel to a fee-based relationship with Amazon.

Risks To Consider: As with all things tech and digital, something better could be just around the corner. And as data flows increase and spread into the emerging market world, companies and countries could leap-frog existing technology and take on the latest innovation, making some tech that’s extremely relevant today completely obsolete.

But that’s what’s interesting about consumer-focused tech: The customer will always be relevant.

Action To Take:, Inc. (NYSE: CRM) is currently trading at about $76 a share. Analysts expect shares to trade at $89.35 within a year. Within five years, that ambitious $139 price target could be well within reach.

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