Big Data is a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: a combination of extreme feelings and outcomes; ecstasy and doomsday; the Good and the Evil.
Holding a balanced view of Big Data seems elusive. The reality presents itself as a cyclothymic roller coaster, often with a gloomy end or a taste of frustration.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The path will not be easy or hassle free, but Big Data can be leveraged to bring big benefits to individuals and organizations alike.
This can only happen if your organization adopts a Big Data’s mind set…
Act One: Welcome Dr. Jekyll
Synopsis: Dr. Jekyll, a.k.a., Big Data, joins the stage as a heavenly gift for the good of business and humankind.
Your business welcomes Big Data, which returns the favor by fully optimizing your valuable and costly assets. It digs on data from all possible sources to accurately predict demand, maximize network monetization, and ensure best-in-class services.
Big Data fancies your organization, so it raises customer loyalty up to the sky based on intelligent Big Data analytical models that not only detect customer incidents before they happen, but also generate meaningful offers that keep customers happy while greatly increasing their lifetime value.
You invite Big Data for a dinner, hoping for the best, only to find how low your highest expectations were! Big Data allows your family to shop at the speed of thought, because providers will ship the goods you want, where and when you want them, at the very lowest price.
Not finished, Big Data offers humankind all kinds of machine learning devices, able to communicate among them and with us, rendering most of the boring or complicated work done. This leaves humans with only the nice and exciting bits, under highly paid, 10 hours per week “full-time” jobs.
Time and money are no longer at opposite sides of the equation: Big Data provided society both the money and the time we dreamed of…
…and so, you wake up with someone knocking at your door.
Act Two: Dread Mr. Hyde
Synopsis: Dr. Jekyll disappears mysteriously and is replaced by Mr. Hyde, who quickly spreads a Big Data wave of destruction throughout society.
You meet Big Data again, but this time in the worst possible way.
You find out that your business is being outpaced by your competitor, a much closer acquaintance of Big Data. Big Data provides your competitor with flawless products that are precisely targeted to customers when and where they are wanted, thus commanding higher prices. Both your market share and your profitability are smashed.
Big Data has also convinced a start-up to be a game changer. This startup is now smart enough to use all the data magically siphoned out of the “web” – that cornucopia of valuable, endless data about everybody and everything – to create a new mashed-up online business that basically puts half of your product portfolio out of business.
You try to gain the friendship of Big Data through a proxy acquaintance, a regulated marketing data company that knows Big Data well. You use this company to provide precision marketing targeting services. However, Big Data crosses you up by providing irregularly collected customer data, and soon you are experiencing the wrath of consumer protection organizations. Your business is targeted for an exemplary punishment, while your brand value collapses and customers defect to the competition.
Meanwhile, rough nations offer Big Data asylum, and to return the favor Big Data helps them gather intelligence to compromise communication networks, financial exchanges, and critical facilities across the globe. First politicians and then the civil population in general are targeted, and their personal lives and their ideas, mined through intricate algorithms, are disclosed on the web.
People now live in constant fear of being spotted and having their thoughts, secrets, and idiosyncrasies revealed.
As a result, people tend to conform, living extremely dull, white-board lives with not much to lose and nothing else to gain.
The spice and creativity have disappeared altogether.
You are living a Big Data nightmare.
Act Three: Harness Big Data
Synopsis: Neither Dr. Jekyll nor Mr. Hyde, you focus your efforts on discovering the true spirit of Big Data.
Undeterred by this ultimate fight between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, between Good and Evil, you know this fight is artificial, though it needs not to be so.
Big Data has no moral qualms, but human beings do. Big Data is available to all who are willing to exploit it, including businesses, individuals, states, and criminals alike. So, depending to whom you ask, Big Data may equate to Big Business, Big Brother, or Big Society!
For sure it will help your business perform faster, better, and cheaper, increasing your competitive edge… until your competition either catches up or surpasses you.
For sure it will help you understand more quickly and accurately what’s going on with systems, organizations, customers, and citizens with all the good and the bad consequences of such insight.
Unilateral, self-serving moves are likely to trigger counterweighting reactions from combative competitors and adversarial reactions from alienated individuals. Improvements will be limited at best, with pyrrhic victories and swings of market share, but no real great sustainable advancements.
This is the common cycle of most major technological advancements, followed by a strong urge for action, to do it better and faster, before others do the same and cut you out.
But it’s important to understand the true nature of Big Data and the mindset that enables you and your organization to full explore its potential.
I believe the Geist of Big Data is not volume, velocity or variety, but the catalyst for a Big Data Market.
A global Data Market where you collaborate, match, and combine data producers, owners, connectors, transformers, applicators, and consumers.
A global Data Market where you exchange and blend data from different sources and from different owners into added-value data mash-ups, available for whomever is willing and capable of taking the most value of them.
This requires a different mindset, a willingness to open up your organization, break silos, and promote an effective ecosystem where data can be exchanged and used by those with awesome ideas who are capable of generating and distributing the most value out of it.
That’s the very genesis of Big Data emergent data handling technologies: free exchanges of ideas through an open-source, vibrant development community.
This is a difficult path with many obstacles to overcome, from building trust and transparency (to promote cooperation and creativity), to developing the means to ensure data liquidity and agile value chains (to allow for effective data exchange and for fair and efficient retribution schemes).
It is also clear that a more open organization requires a more horizontal approach to the market, where several layers of entities work together to achieve a more agile and fluid data supply chain. This raise complexities, vulnerabilities, and risks that needs to be seriously considered and managed.
More than ever, you need to ensure the resiliency of your organization, for it’s neither an easy nor hassle free journey, but one that will unlock the true Geist of Big Data!
Eager to harness the true value of Big Data?