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My take on Big Data

Tuesday, 3rd September 2013

Given the amount of hype over big data over recent years I have naturally been exposed to a lot of articles and thoughts about it.  I have come to the conclusion that from a pragmatic business view that there is nothing fundamentally new about the issue, and it will never be solved.  I will explain these 2 thoughts separately.


Firstly, the idea that big data is not new (and I have heard others express this view so I am not alone).  If big data is defined simply as more data than you can currently handle due to constraints in the technology available to you.  So while that means big data now is all the video, audio, text, monitoring systems, etc previously it has been other data which we now can handle.  When I started my career big data was when you had too many rows or columns to fit in your spreadsheet, or too many pages of daisy wheel reports to be able to re-input the data in time to analyse it to meet your deadlines. In between there have been other developments which have helped handle the ongoing growth in data complexity and volume.


That brings me to my second point; why big data will never be solved.  New technology is inevitably applied to solving operational or customer problems in the first instance.  The new data that goes with it is nearly always a secondary benefit, and usually not considered by the people developing and implementing the new technology.  So the methods and technology to handle new data being created will always follow after the creation of the new data itself.


So while I appreciate and enjoy the fact that analytics and data management are getting an increasingly high profile, I don't think these fundamental truths are going to change.  I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

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