Examining if Big Data is Worth all of the Hype

I’ve never liked the term “big data.” It feels like a contrived term, born from opportunistic vendors anxious to sell more hardware and software. Certainly, we have seen enormous growth in the sheer volume of data being produced today, and yes, that is what most people think about when they hear the term big data. However, when I think about big data, I think more broadly about its potential.

Today, we are well down the path of the Internet of things (IoT). Within the next five years, it’s predicted there will be over 50 billion “smart” connected devices across the world, producing and sharing data. These smart devices are everywhere, including consumer devices in the home, sensors used in manufacturing automation, intelligent transportation, and health gadgets. They produce a lot of data that would be beneficial to both consumers and businesses.

We are at a very interesting point in business intelligence history. We have the potential to explore everything around us through data, and we have the technology to do it. But, all that data is not worth anything if it is locked up in the device or sitting in a server farm somewhere. Big data is bigger than just data.

Instead of using the term big data, I like to think of it as the “More” concept. More data, more sources, more users, more complexity, more insight. Only when these things come together does big data become valuable and live up to its hype.

As an industry, I feel we are on the path to More, but we are not there yet. We need to get to the place where using the insights derived from data is a natural part of our everyday lives and becomes as easy as looking something up on Google, no matter how complex the question is.

No one could have predicted what a game-changer the mobile phone would be. In the U.S., nearly 75% of all adults own a smartphone allowing people to live a life untethered. It is my belief, like mobile phones, data and analytics will someday be as ubiquitous as mobile phones. People will wonder how they ever did anything without analyzing the underlying data. We’re starting to see the beginning of that as people are accessing more data from their consumer devices—think of the Fitbit.

Next, will come complexity, both in the way we bring different sources together, as well as the complexity of the questions that get asked. I’m intrigued by the Web of things (WoT) that provides a framework to find, share and integrate information from all things connected to the network. I will delve into that topic in a future blog.

I think once we can take advantage of more data from more sources with more complexity by more users, we will reap some incredible insights. Our goal at Pyramid Analytics is to empower people at all levels with varying skills to be able to easily find the stories hidden within the data. That’s the power of “More.”

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