Big Data: The Engine Driving the Next Era of Computing

You are at a conference. Top business honchos are huddled together with their Excel sheets and paraphernalia. The speaker whips out his palmtop and mutters ‘big data’. There follows an impressive hush. Everyone plays along. You feel emboldened to ask, “Can you define it?” Another hush follows. The big daddys of business are momentarily at a loss. Perhaps they can only Google. You get it? Everyone knows, everyone accepts, big data is big, but no one really knows how, or why. At any rate, no one knows enough straight off the bat.

In the Beginning was Data. Then data defined the world. Now big data is now refining the data-driven world. God is in the last-mile detail. Example: In the number-crunching world of accountancy, intangibles are invading the balance sheet values. “Goodwill” is treated as an expense. It morphs into an asset only when it is acquired externally like say, through a market transaction. Data scientists now ask why can’t we classify Amazon’s vast data pool of its customers as an “asset”? Think of it as the latest straw in the wind of how big data is getting bigger.

Big data is getting bigger and bigger because data today is valued as an economic input as well as an output. The time for austerity is past. Now is the time for audacity. Ask how. Answer: Try crowd sourcing your data defining skills.

When you were not watching, big data was changing the way the technology enablers play the game in the next era of computing. Applications are doing a lot more for a lot less.

Big data isn’t about bits or even gigabytes. It’s about talent. Used wisely, it helps you to take decisions you trust. Naysayers of course see the half-full glass as if it is under threat of an overspill. They insinuate that big data leads to relationships that are unreal. But the reality we don’t know is what is behind all that big data. It is after all, a massy and classy potpourri: part math, part data, with some intuition thrown in. It’s ok if you can’t figure out the math in the big data, because it is all wired in the brain, and certainly not fiction or a fictitious figment of imagination.
When you were not watching, big data was changing the way the technology enablers play the game in the next era of computing. Applications are doing a lot more for a lot less. Just to F5 (we mean refresh…):
You and me can flaunt a dirt cheap $50 computer the size of your palm AND use the same search analysis software that is run by obscenely wealthy Google.

Every physical thing is getting connected, somewhere, at some time or the other, in some or the other ways. AT&T claims a staggering 20,000% growth on wireless traffic over the past 5 years. Cisco expects IP traffic to leap frog ahead and grow four-fold by 2016. And Morgan Stanley breezes through an entire gamut of portfolio analysis, sentiment analysis, predictive analysis, et al for all its large scale investments with the help of Hadoop, the top dog for analyzing complex data. Retail giant Amazon uses one million Hadoop clusters to support their affiliate network, risk management, machine learning, website updates and lots more stuff that works for us.

Data critics though are valiantly trying to hoist big data on its own petard by demanding proof of its efficacy. Proof? Why? Do we really need to prove that we have never ever had a greater, better analyzed, more pervasive, or expansively connected computing power and information at a cheaper price in the history of the world? Give the lovable data devil its due!