Recently I overheard someone say, “If I get one more email or see another self-serving article or conference extolling all the unbelievable ways digital surveillance (AKA big data) can be used to solve just about every problem known to modern man, I think I’ll lose my mind.” Count me in on this feeling.
Coincidentally, many of the articles and webinars are either supported or funded by the large digital consultancies, venture-backed big data firms that want to go public or software or hardware firms looking to sell you their services and training. This reminds me of the Internet frenzy of the late 1990’s, where everything Internet was gold and companies were elbowing each other out of the way to own the next ‘sock puppet’ that walked into their office. The mad dash to invest big dollars in everything big data is the reason cheerleaders point to as why it is a can’t-miss. Isn’t that the same thing they said about the sock puppet? It’s time to take a deep breath. That’s it…inhale slowly—now exhale. Slow down and let’s think a minute about what is happening here.
Most of what is being put out about big data is hype, just like sock puppets were. Gartner calls it the hype cycle, and big data is at the top of the cycle, where the peak of inflated expectations live. Next up is the disillusionment phase, hitting many companies hard because it will coincide with the sluggish economy and unfulfilled big data dreams. Indeed through 2015, 85% of Fortune 500’s will be unable to exploit big data for competitive advantage, according to Gartner. Other issues include data scientist shortages, lack of analytical skills among staff, hard to use software, digital click fraud running rampant, difficulties in sourcing data, difficulties in determining useful data, and valuing data clicks such as likes. (Talk may be cheap, likes and tweets are cheaper.) Not to mention the looming uber issue of privacy and ethics of surveilling people without their knowledge or the internal turf battles within organizations or language barriers between the owners of information vs. potential users. [ Full Story – Forbes by Gary Drenik – March 26, 2014 ]