The big buzz of Big Data: preventing big adoption?


It seems that more than a few people believe that Big Data is all hype. Leena Rao of TechCrunch writes that the term is "outdated, and consists of an overly general set of words that don’t reflect what is actually happening now with data."

She goes on to write that "It’s no longer about big data, it’s about what you can do with the data. It’s about the apps that layer on top of data stored, and insights these apps can provide."

Lessons from the 1990s: Is Today's Big Data Hype Really New?

Let's go back about fifteen years to the rise in popularity of CRM, BI and ERP. To be sure, not every thought leader, software vendor and consulting firm agreed upon the "proper" definitions of these important sets of applications. What's more, each entity had an incentive to create and promote (its own) individual methodologies.

Now, this isn't difficult to understand. Consulting firm XYZ would not want to use the same terms as ABC. Every company has a legitimate self-interest in attempting to differentiate itself - and that certainly hasn't changed in the era of Big Data. And it's this very diversity of thought that stalled many a BI, ERP and CRM implementation. The noise often drowned out the signal.

So, with respect to Big Data, what's different now?

Two words: social media.

Unlike back then, today you can literally spend all day reading a never-ending stream of articles, tweets, blog posts and white papers on Big Data. Even the definition of the term itself is anything but settled. (I've tried before on this site to define Big Data, something much harder than it would initially seem.)

Brass tacks: Today we're nowhere close to achieving a consensus over Big Data with respect to the following:

  • What it is
  • What it isn't
  • The solutions required to take advantage of it
  • Appropriate methodologies
  • Pitfalls to avoid

Simon Says

Here's the rub: Waiting for such a consensus to develop on Big Data is downright silly. While I certainly understand the reluctance of a CXO to be an early adopter, planning to start a Big Data "initiative" in 2018 is a big mistake (pun intended). There's too much ground to be gained by acting now - certainly more than enough to account for the inevitable missteps that occur when deploying any new technology.


What say you?


About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

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