Size Does Matter (Sort of)
In this era of instant access to information, the use and acceptance of buzzwords spread like a virus. “Cloud computing” is a good example. You see the term everywhere now, touted as if it were a cutting edge (buzzword!) innovation, when in fact leading solution providers have been providing it to our industry for years. This kind of jargon is plentiful, and also includes phrases like “think outside the box”. Heck, even “buzzword” has become a buzzword.
This blog has been known to use a few of these choice words, like “synergy,” “alignment”, and “robust”, but at the end of the day (buzzphrase!) if everyone uses the same words to describe items with varying degrees of difference, the words lose their meaning. It’s like saying every product is, “Bigger, Faster, Better.” What does that mean, really?
Speaking of “bigger,” what are we to make of the latest buzzphrase, “Big Data”? Survey online sites related to business and you’ll get the impression its transformative properties are heaven sent. Is this an accurate assessment? Well, we would never deny the benefits of being able to carve, sectionalize, and analyze a single large set of relevant data, but then we wouldn’t argue against the benefits of atomic energy, either. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful when trying to harness its power.
Not to say the downside of Big Data is as apocalyptic as nuclear energy’s, but look at the entertainment industry. Big Data is being used with more and more frequency to determine the commercial appeal of musical styles, movie content and television programming. Are we getting more appealing product as a result? The answer is far from clear-cut.
That may be in part because by relying too much on data, we are removing ourselves at least one step from the realities of whatever business we are trying to analyze. Big Data can drill down to show us sales and other trends in their most granular form, and that is a spectacular advancement that can unlock the potential of our enterprises. On its own, however, the wisdom it imparts has a ceiling. You need the other part of the equation, a deep knowledge of the business in question and personal experience in the trenches. Otherwise you are simply drowning in wave after wave of data, a point upon which we touched in an earlier blog post.
The best technology companies understand this. They have the expertise to harness the latest technologies, while understanding that having knowledgeable staff on hand to provide real-world context and guidance regarding the use of said data is just as critical. Getting to know customers and their personal desires for their businesses has been a touchstone of successful companies from the beginning. Big Data complements this approach, but it is never a means to it’s own end.
Size does matter. Just maybe not as much as some people would have you believe.