Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Big Data

I was at a presentation a few months ago where executives from various organizations were being sold a "big data" product. Well, that's what they were told they were getting.  The presenter used all the "right" cliche jokes.. such as

"Big data is like teenage sex, everyone is talking about it, 
everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, but no one really is"

Wow, these guys must be creating a new, innovative analytics product if they're willing to talk about other analysts and the rest of the industry that way.

So.  What were they selling?  

A desktop based GIS-type database that appeared to hold about 50MB of data. No. Shit.  It's a product that I could put together using publicly available data, a QuantumGIS backend, and throwing a junior analyst at it for a couple of days.

What's my point?  

The term "Big Data" is powerful branding.  Especially to executives who have been lead to think they need it, yet don't understand it, and react positively to colorful GIS maps.  Part of the job of the analyst, is explain what we can do easily, what is difficult, and what potential lift is.  Essentially there is a meta-analysis that has to occur, which is the business case/potential profit of the analysis/analytics product itself.

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