Data, Data, my kingdom for Data!!!

Big Data…it is everywhere…well what would you expect from something titled BIG! It must be massive, all over the place, surrounding us. Big Data also reminds me of the carpetbagger character in Outlaw Josey Wales when asked about his “product” –

Josey Wales: Works wonders on just about everything, eh?
Carpetbagger: It can do most anything.

We are constantly inundated with “Big Data” and the promise of it being able to do “most anything.” And there is some truth to that. But the reality is that, to quote another Western themed saying – there are gold in them hills. We must realize that the hills represent the data, the gold is the value…the nuggets of value we are all looking to gain. And similar to prospecting, those who found the gold faster than the next person tended to walk away with more value – a better ROI. Of course we know who made the most money, those providing the services for those prospectors.

As we keep speaking of data, we need to think about data differently and not just as “Big Data.” Data can do most anything, but it is the type of data can do what we need it to do:

  • Fast Data – There are some industries and needs that are more concerned with identifying patterns in data – quickly. Think of high velocity financial trading. The data that is being proceed has less value as time goes on, what counts is to be able to identify a fraudulent trade at the instant that it occurs. This type of data,while massive, is all about getting pattern recognition done at the blink of an eye. But that historical data is not incredibly valuable.
  • Predictive Data – Think of the mountains of historic data that can mined at one’s leisure – to do better planning and forecasting. Now I realize that historical data does not predict the future…but we need to start with something to create a plan and forecast. This is where this type of data comes into play. This is where the amount of historic data has become a massive mountain, with some gold in them hills. Speed is not of the essence here but the ability to gather massive qualities of data is what is key, and being able to draw correlations and relationships amongst that data.

So when a marketer says that big data will help them sell one more item X or if a fraud prevention professional talks of big data helping identify crooks, ask what type of big data they are looking for. All data is not the same.

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1 Comment

Filed under Current Events, Technology

One response to “Data, Data, my kingdom for Data!!!

  1. The notion that data is not a magic talisman to cure all ills seems to be a growing idea. For example, David Brooks recently wrote a NY Times article called “The Philosophy of Data” exploring the idea that data may have more limitations than we originally realized.

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