Big Data? Let’s talk about LITTLE data!


OK, I’m going to stay on tech here, away from the politics of big-data, because you can draw your own conclusions.  By now EVERYBODY has heard about ‘big data’, the information companies gather and what the government requires they acquire.  I personally have been involved in ‘lawful intercept’ projects and understand the technologies and laws that govern access. The fact is that ‘you’re opted in’, whether you like it or not, so when you think about what’s possible, you have to think of unlimited instrumentation, unlimited storage and unlimited computing power.  Everything is easily captured and quickly stored, ready to map(reduce) and query.  I’m not talking about batch analytics against a data-warehouse.  I’m talking about REALTIME analytics against realtime data. SO WHAT? Let’s talk about some use-cases that we can all easily understand.  Let’s instrument every vital sign occurring with the physiology of our bodies.  Everything event, every mood, every anomaly, every failure, every improvement.  Let’s map that against health models developed for our personal demographic and across geographies and populations.  I think we all understand that the benefits far outweigh the risks or politics and the technology exists to do this.  And even though it’s BIG DATA, it’s really the LITTLE DATA  that has the greatest benefit.  Did I eat a healthy meal or did it spike my blood-sugars.  Did my exercise improve my blood pressure or did I have a sudden unhealthy rise.  Does a cancerous cell that turned up in a fellow human have anything to do with my future risk for the same cancer, and can it be circumvented with preventative treatment?  Does the PERFORMANCE of my peers indicate PERFORMANCE for me and my descendants?  And, again, I’m talking about realtime-actionable information and predictive-long-term health benefits. HOW ABOUT YOU?  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO CIO’S? Since everything is possible and the use-cases limitless, it’s up to YOU as a TECHNOLOGIST to figure out what that means in your job.  How does data and fast access allow your company to find and retain customers?  Of course it depends on your industry so if you truly understand your target-customer and their compelling-reason-to-buy, what you need to understand about them should be quite obvious to you.   Assuming you figured out what data you need and how you acquire it, the trick is not to deluge your business peers with massive data-analytics, but to provideACTIONABLE analytics that your company can use to to improve and grow the business.  Think of it as a continuous process, based on your knowledge of your customer and the data they individually provide you and the collective intelligence that they communally provide you. So, when your CEO asks you what you’re doing about BIG DATA, you say “It’s the LITTLE DATAthat I’m interested in”.  And after she corrects your bad grammar, you can explain that while BIG DATA focuses on Volume, Variety and Velocity, LITTLE DATA focuses on VALUE. P-Cz About Paul Czarnik Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music. Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.