Do we need to kill “big data”?

A recent article on Techcrunch made the argument that the term “Big Data” should be abandoned, on the basis that it has fallen into generic usage and, in any event, no longer represented how organisations are thinking about their data.

Organisations aren’t interested in amassing lots of data, the author (Leena Rao) opined. Rather, they want to derive insights from big data. She has a good point.

There is a real risk that the “Big Data” movement will soon experience the same backlash that befell the CRM movement in the 90s.

The key problem is that too many people think of “Big Data” in terms of a technology purchase. The mind set is: “We will choose a big data vendor, install their solution and then – automagically – we will reap significant business benefit and advantage”.

I always prefer to describe CRM as a “philosophy”. Organisations need to embrace the key tenets of Customer Relationship Management, which in turn requires making changes at multiple levels – technology (of course), employee training, internal policies and procedures, customer communications and, importantly, culture.

That is, to successfully embrace CRM, an organisation must ensure its day-to-day business operations and company culture fully reflect the tenets of CRM.

As such, it is a philosophy – a way of thinking/acting – as much as it is a technology solution.

Today, many organisational stakeholders are falling into the same “buy the technology, secure the prize” trap when it comes to Big Data.

Big Data is actually worse, because it requires multiple kinds of technology purchases: solutions to handle data ingestion, validation, storage, management, aggregation, chunking, abstraction, querying, hypothesis testing, access controls, reporting, visualisation etc.

It also requires significantly wider changes to business practices, policies and procedures – often involving multiple external partners within a supply chain – to achieve even the slightest outcome.

Mark Neely Country Manager, Compassites Australia is a business design and innovation consultant with a 15+ year track-record of helping clients re-imagine what is possible in their industry and make the most of the opportunities created by market and technologies. He has worked with both start-up and established clients in many industries like media, retail, financial services, superannuation, telecommunication and government. Mark is the author of a dozen technology-related books, a qualified lawyer and holds an MS in Technology Commercialisation.

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