While working on our Big Data reports and on this book, we met many marketeers and geeks, CIO’s and managers, lawyers, activists, forerunners, followers and laggards in the emerging field of Big Data Analytics. Five main themes surfaced: acceleration, transformation, data ownership, privacy and Edward Snowden.
1 Big Data into gear
Acceleration is an important one that Big Data projects have in common. The V of Velocity turns out to be the most popular of the defining Big Data triad of Volume, Variety and Velocity. Any Variety or Volume focus always leads to the question of how to conduct Big Data Analytics. Velocity however is less about technology and more about the possibilities, about performance and about business impact. Being able to rapidly process and analyze vast amounts of unstructured data is crucial. Consumers and citizens expect immediate response. They tweet their messages about what’s on their minds and want to be adequately served by webcare teams. The conclusion is obvious: as long as it can be faster, new Big Data technologies and applications continue to evolve. Time is money and acceleration is synonymous with competitive advantage. Real-time isn’t fast enough: predicting what will happen next is the real ambition, moving from predictive to prescriptive analysis.
2 Big Data transformation
The ideal data scientist is a much discussed colleague. This all-rounder must embody all the competencies for an organization to become Big Data driven, a transformation that requires direction and support from the top. For instance to start a statistical agency using mobile phone data. Insights from location data and people moving around have proven to be an excellent alternative for charting consumer behavior. But every time Big Data comes in there will remain much resistance and conservatism to counter, since as Clay Shirky puts it: “Institutions will preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” B.I. experts for instance, may have many solutions for problems that they cherish: traditional Business Intelligence and Big Data Analytics still are worlds apart.
3 Own your data and your future
It could be a time bomb under many Big Data initiatives: consumers and citizens who rule their own data. This scenario was discussed by an international group of CIO’s at the Sogeti Big Data Summit 2012 where Doc Searls, author of The Intention Economy: when customers take charge, hosted the meeting. Searls argues that individuals themselves are in the best position to monetize their personal data, which might overthrow the relationship with organizations. Ultimately, Vendor Relationship Management would replace Customer Relationship Management. In his book Who Owns the Future? Jaron Lanier also pleads that people should make money from their own personal data. For Lanier this could be a solution to the Big Data Analytics problem that people will lose their jobs in a world of advanced smart systems and devices.
4 Privacy in the picture
How do we deal with privacy or what is left of it? When The Guardian started publishing Edward Snowden’s revelations about the Big Data practices of secret services, it was fuel to an existing fire. The privacy issue always has been top of mind when personal data were involved. We now follow the great privacy debate on a daily basis in the media as we are painfully aware of the fact that no secrets are safe since agencies and organizations have access to much more information than we would like. Organizations and governments of course have been collecting enormous amounts of data that can be related to an individual, but this kind of Personally Identifiable Information (pii) is protected throughout the world by privacy laws. However, in the digital age, legislation alone is insufficient by far and thanks to Big Data Analytics non-personal data also easily can lead to the right prospects. Few organizations seem to master the Privacy by Design maxim but the best advice to be trusted is: be trans- parent, comply and explain as much as you can.
5 Welcome to the No More Secrets era
The question remains how much the Big Data future is influenced by the Snowden revelations which have put data protection and privacy at the center of our attention. All major U.S. online services were persuaded to participate in the largest ever monitoring of data traffic: Big Data Analytics to the max. Friendly powers and foreign companies were tapped as smartphones and tablets were shamelessly searched. Encryption and other security systems were cracked or had loopholes to circumvent them. A fundamental undermining of computer, data and network security, plus of privacy and data protection. No one was aware of the extent and depth of these operations. Our book No More Secrets lets you walk firmly with both feet on the ground in the reality of Big Data Analytics, and will inspire you to create your own “magic moments” in search of better insights and business decisions using Big Data.