Big data: a means or an end?

plastic_bottlesIf we had to pick one technology that has been capturing the attention of everyone lately, I think Big Data would qualify. But what is big data, and more importantly, why do we care so much about big data?

A lot of focus today is placed on the data itself, and on the tool chain that enables big data (the cost-effective and innovative thing). One can’t help but wonder: is big data an end in itself? Sure, Hadoop is cool, but what is it really used for? At the end of the day, why are we collecting, storing, processing, analyzing all this data? Have we become data collectors?

When I was a kid, one summer my brother and I had the great idea of saving all empty bottles of mineral water the family was consuming (and before you ask – no, there was 5c deposit to collect). Our parents were not thrilled about the idea, but (rightfully) figured out we would quickly give up on this futile quest. And indeed we did, when the thrill of stacking up empty plastic bottles in the basement wore off – and when we figured out there was no benefit for us to have, and to count, these empty bottles.

If you are collecting data today, and extracting wonderful insight and statistics from this data, there must be a point, right? You’re not counting bottles just for the sake of counting bottles?

It’s what you do with the data, and with the insight, that is useful. It’s not the data. The data is just a means to an end.

Stop viewing big data, and the building of your big data infrastructure, as a terrific achievement. View it for what it is: a tool to improve your processes, to grow your revenue, to create new opportunities, to solve problems… and ultimately, to digitalize your business.

For these only will make a difference. How you get there doesn’t matter.

Digitally yours,

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