Getting Beyond Big Data Hype to Understand the Data
It’s clear that we’re collecting more data, but the question is to what end? Whether it’s web analytics, web performance analytics or any other type of data, it doesn’t do us any good until we actually make use of that data to learn something.
And it makes sense that at least some of that data analysis is going to take place in the cloud. Why? Because the cloud can scale like crazy and there’s one thing we know about Big Data is that it’s big and just getting bigger all the time. That requires storage and processing power and analytics.
That’s why companies like Amazon and EMC are so ga-ga over the prospects of managing all that data for you because they sell these very services and they see a serious opportunity where Big Data is concerned. Amazon is taking it even further; they are not just helping you store and process that data they are also giving you access to public data sets through Amazon.
That’s right, Amazon is giving you even more data to process. Is that a good thing? Actually, yes it is because as it turns out, the more data you have, the better answers you can get and the more interesting things you can do.
As an example, Tim O’Reilly was talking about the impact of Big Data in an interview recently. O’Reilly used the Google Self-driven car as an example saying not that long ago, the Self-driven car could only go a few feet, but today it can drive miles without a hitch. What’s changed?
O’Reilly explained it wasn’t the technology that drives the car or the artificial intelligence that had improved so dramatically in the interim. It was the amount of data.
Just this morning a story broke that Apple may be dumping Google Maps from the iPhone in favor of its own mapping technology. My first thought was this might be good since Google Maps tends to suck resources on the iPhone and a native Apple maps app might do better. But on Google + another person suggested this was a bad idea because Google Maps is more mature than anything Apple comes up with and Google has better data.
There is it is again. The idea that data can be a strategic advantage over the competition, and if it works for Google, which has gotten quite good at collecting data sets and then making clever use of them, it could also work for your company
And all of that of course is going to require tools to process, understand and draw conclusions from all that data, whether it’s an individual decision such as which web page to serve a person based on what you know about them or a more complex decision about how to distribute resources around your data center, or something even more strategic such as which products should get the lion’s share of your marketing resources based on what the current data is telling you.
It’s easy to roll your eyes at Big Data as a term and say it’s just another nugget from the IT hype machine or to dismiss it because you’re not Google or Facebook, and you don’t really have the volume of data to deal with anything that would be called Big Data. But the fact is you don’t have to be a mega company to take advantage, especially when you start mixing publicly available data sets with your own.
Sure Big Data is being over hyped right now, but just because it’s in a major hype cycle doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention. Just remember he who has the most data is in a good position to win, so long as you can find ways to understand that data. That alone should get your attention.