The potential of Big Data

To better understand the excitement around Big Data, there is an informative  report by McKinsey Global Institute – Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity.   I encourage you to read this report and there are some key call outs that showcase the potential of Big Data.


Big Data call outs!

It’s about the next wave of jobs with the main domains of Big Data being Healthcare, Public Sector, Retail, Manufacturing, and Telecommunications.

140,000-190,000 more deep analytical talent positions and 1.5 million more data-savvy managers needed to take full advantage of big data in the United States


It’s really, really big!

…nearly all sectors in the US company had at least an average of 200 terabytes of stored data per company…


Yet, the IP isn’t the technology – it’s the data!

Why do we build databases and data warehouses in the first place?  We build them to understand the meaning behind the data.  While that is an obvious statement, many times we forget this and focus too much on the technology as opposed to the meaning behind this data.


…it’s the data that is the intellectual property.  Or more specifically, the ability to make sense of the data and understand the meaning behind it.


After all, why is Google (BigTable, GFS, MapReduce), Yahoo (Hadoop), Facebook (Cassandra) “giving away” their technology and making it free for almost anyone to use?  Because by going open source, the community can all work together to make the technology better.  In the process, we’re commoditizing the technology itself – because it’s the data that is the intellectual property.   Or more specifically, the ability to make sense of the data and understand the meaning behind it.   This is also the reason people will pay (and should pay) for some technologies because it allows them to make sense of the data easier, faster, and operationally simpler. So this is NOT a debate on open source vs. commercial packages – this is calling out a change in perspective to IT and analysts a like – it’s all about the data – and that’s the real potential of Big Data.






As “Q” said it on Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “All Good Things…






For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.


So for a fraction of a second, open yourself up to the possibility of Big Data, and you will realize that there is a lot more compelling unknowns for us data geeks to go solve.


  1. Thomas Kejser

    Mate, with all due respect. You should take a report from the company that caused the Enron disaster with a bit of sound scepticism.

    But I agree that this is going to be big for decision making – if enough talent can be grown. So far, a lot of that talent is tied up in the financial industries (Quants). The potential for automated healthcare diagnoses and scientific research (proteonomics come to mind) is just huge – all for the benefit of mankind.

    This is going to change corporate systems and threaten traditional management disciplines. A long overdue wakeup call.

  2. Point taken on the source of the report, but if the data is good and it makes sense, I’m still okay with having people read it, eh?! 🙂

    But you definitely hit the nail on the head on this being a long overdue wake up call. Let the revolution begin 🙂

  3. […] all about the data – as noted in my own post The potential of Big Data“, it’s becoming every more apparent that the real IP isn’t the technology but the […]

  4. […] time, I became a bit more explicit on the subject of big data including posts like the potential of Big Data and “Hadoop: A movement, not just a technology”.  But all of this time, what I was excited […]

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