Why CIO Magazine’s recent top five list on big data misses the mark
In his recent article, “Five Things CIOs Should Know About Big Data” CIO Magazine writer Joab Jackson shares his top five pieces of advice about the big data revolution for CIOs. He includes reasons why the hype about Hadoop isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While I definitely agree with his #5 assessment that “Big data is not just about Hadoop,” I don’t entirely agree with the other four points that made his list. Here are my counter-arguments surrounding the other important issues he raises.
You will need to know about big data.
I would assume any company big enough to have a CIO inevitably knows about big data and what it can do to help improve business. But, it’s no longer enough to know about big data. If you’re not in the process of developing or implementing big data initiatives – even on a fairly basic level – you are already at risk of falling behind your competitors. It’s not knowing about big data, it’s knowing what to do with it that counts.
Useful data can come from anywhere (and everywhere).
Actually, I wholly agree with this statement. My counter point comes from the fact that Mr. Jackson focuses on data generated by machines: like log files that show how people interact with your company’s website, or sensors in cars that reveal people’s driving habits. While there is no doubt that machines and sensors are invaluable sources of data, they represent only a fraction of a much bigger data ecosystem.
Many analysts are already hard at work using social media, blogs and other readily available sources of information to gauge buyer sentiment, anticipate customers’ needs and find valuable clues for what technologies and products will be in demand in the future. Social media, blogs and even company emails are rich sources for insights into your customers and your business. These fountainheads of information should be a crucial part of your businesses big data strategy.
You will need new expertise for big data.
Jackson raises the argument that organizations will need to “hire statistical modelers, text mining professionals, people who specialize in sentiment analysis” in order to set up a big data analysis system. While having these specialists at your company’s disposal can be a huge benefit, I disagree that you will need them. In fact, the WaLa! Platform™ was specifically designed to help solve this business problem. Not only does it plug into any data source you would like to analyze, its semantic big data search tool allows you to integrate multiple data sources into a single interface so any business user – from CEOs to administrative staff – can analyze insights across the enterprise.
Big data doesn’t require organization beforehand.
While I understand the idea behind this sentiment (i.e., don’t get hung up on what you’re going to do with it yet since it’s more important to start collecting it), I would definitely recommend taking a more strategic approach to planning your big data initiatives so you don’t spin your wheels on collecting data you won’t use. Most experts agree that the first step in developing a successful big data initiative should start with an evaluation of your company’s biggest challenges and how you can potentially use the big data at your disposal to solve those. The output of your evaluation will lead you to the types of data you should start with and you can build from there.
Is your organization struggling with how to get started with big data?
Download The WaLa! Platform™: Big Data Simplified™ to find out how our plug-in-play solutions can help you quickly and easily use big data to get ahead of the competition.