Big Data, Small Data – or YOUR Data?

I just finished reading Big Data and Marketing: A Confused Relationship? over on Marketing Pilgrim. There’s some good stuff in the post – but what really caught my attention was a paragraph toward the end of the article. The paragraph is:

Focus more on the data you have today versus getting caught up in trying to solve Big Data. Start small, learn as you go, and leverage your learnings to move forward into a Big Data world that we as marketers can definitely understand and benefit from.

What caught my attention was the “…start small, learn as you go..” comment. I’m a fan of starting small but even more of ‘learning as you go”.

This particular paragraph got me to thinking about the Big Data world and the ‘buzz’ around Big Data.  Specifically, I’ve been thinking about Big Data and the Mid-sized and Small Business.  I’ve written about the topic before (e.g., see here and here) and think Big Data is useful for any organization regardless of size but I also believe the focus on ‘big’ data is the wrong focus.

Regardless of the size of your organization, data analysis is a necessity these days. You’ve got to step into the world of Big Data to be competitive today.

That said, Big Data is a misnomer.  The concept is great but the title is off a bit.  Its not bout the size of the data…its about whether the data gives you the answers you need.

The concepts behind Big Data apply across the board. The tools and approaches apply regardless of size of data.   The key to data analysis isn’t the size of the data -The data set you are analysing doesn’t need to be ‘big’ – it just needs to be YOUR data. Additionally, you’ve got to make sure you understand the data set completely and that you understand the context of your data.

Moving into the Big Data world can be confusing at times.  There are a lot of vendors, solutions and consultants. Don’t let the buzz of Big Data keep you from moving into the analytic space.

Move slowly.  Learn what you can before you start but be prepared to learn as you go.  Ignore the buzz and analyse your data for the reasons that you need to. Use YOUR data to find answers for YOUR organization.

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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  • Scot Herrick

    The other key, I think, is to ensure you have good processes for maintaining the data you have, regardless of size. We get enthralled with all of the data out there (terabytes!!!) and forget that when the data was entered, it was wrong. Or is now out of date. Or wasn’t categorized right. If your data has integrity, the probability of having it be useful is so much higher that data that doesn’t have those processes in place.

    • Eric D. Brown

      Agreed Scot…great addition!

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