Has The Term Big Data Lost Meaning?

In Big Data by Daniel NewmanLeave a Comment

Over the past year or so the conversations surrounding Big Data have been on a continuous loop. With endless streams of data being created on a daily basis, we hear the word ‘data’ being uttered everywhere – conferences, meetings, blogs, peer discussions, corporate parties, you name it. I’ve literally lost the count of the number of times I’ve tried making idle conversation with people only to end up talking about Big Data. The last few times that I been to any industry event, Big Data has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue. From marketers, to thought leaders, to business owners, everyone is spending inordinate amounts of time discussing: “What is Big Data?” “What can it do?” “Why do we need it?” and so on and so forth. It begs the question, have we come to a point where we’ve become numb to the term ‘Big Data?’ And for all the time we’ve spent thinking about it and talking about it, is it losing meaning?

Big Data – Simply a Marketing Campaign?

Marketing has long been tasked with putting big concepts out there that have legs because we want people talking about it. Spreading a concept like wildfire is exciting, and who doesn’t get a rush from creating a big buzz? As the organizations that benefit most from Big Data, having it talked about a lot matters. Incidentally, I came across Stephen Few’s blog where he explains why he thinks Big Data is a marketing fad:

“A little more and a little faster have always been on our wish list. While information technology has struggled to catch up, mostly by pumping itself up with steroids, it has lost sight of the objective: to better understand the world—at least one’s little part of it (e.g., one’s business)—so we can make it better. Our current fascination with big data has us looking for better steroids to increase our brawn rather than better skills to develop our brains.”

For businesses, it isn’t about the fancy terms, buzz words, and the “Marketechture,” it’s rather about outcomes. In this whole Big Data fixation, businesses very often miss the point. Many are left swirling in a sea of data, and not really understanding how to make it work for them.

How business can make Real Sense of the Big Data Talk

Data has long been available to us, and while it’s true that new data sources have emerged increasing the rate and amount of data generated, its growth in recent years is only making the problems and the possibilities more visible. Businesses are going into a frenzy trying to capture relevant data and use it to beat their competitors. In the process, I’ve seen many businesses that invest big dollars and employ large teams to focus on Big Data, while none of them are working with databases that fall within the category of Big Data. Not by a long shot, but strangely they like to think that they are managing ‘big data.’

This is where I think it’s essential to stop and think about ‘little data’ – that is all the information that we call Big Data broken down into small bite sized chunks that are easier to swallow and easier to design into more personalized and 1:1 marketing strategies. I say it’s important for business owners and marketers to shift their gaze from figuring out Big Data conundrums to making ‘little data’ discovery. And today, with mobile, social, and cloud technologies, it’s easier than ever to gain insight into ‘little data’ and how it impacts the bottom line of our businesses.

Everything boils down to this – if we keep talking about data just because we can, without evaluating if we should, the term ‘Big Data’ won’t be left with much meaning at all.

First seen on Ricoh USA

Photo Credit: shukladeepika via Compfight cc

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.