Big Data Is...

Big Data

“Big data is (bovine excrement)” — or so says Harper Reed, former CTO for the Obama for America campaign, speaking today at the opening session of the CeBIT trade show in Sydney.

He makes a valid point — the term itself no longer means exactly what it once did. As Reed explains, storing vast amounts of data back in 2007 “was literally hard.” As far as he’s concerned, big data should just be called data; storage is not the issue — it’s the analysis that provides answers to questions that matters.

And he’s right. In the first place, most organizations are not actually storing the amount of data that the term “big data” brings to mind. And for those who are — and for those who do anticipate the need to scale — there are rich solutions today that were difficult or prohibitively expensive to implement five years ago.

Nevertheless, “Big Data” will continue to be relevant as a way to emphasize the difference between traditional data processing techniques and applications and current perspectives on the scale of data that can be captured, analyzed and visualized; the explosion of mobile devices and machine-generated sensor data; and analytics tools and techniques for providing actionable insights in real time.