Don’t focus on the data, focus on what the data tells you

Should we stop talking about big data, and start talking about insights?In a recent post on O’Reilly Radar titled “Turning big data into actionable insights“, Ben Lorica provides some highlights of an interview with Evangelos Simoudis regarding big data.

One of the highlights is extremely important. It relates to the importance of finding actionable insights from big data and sharing those insights in a way that the organization can use.  The quote is:

I think you need three ingredients. You need data, you need the right ways to combine the data and extract features from that data, and then the third ingredient is the ability to analyze the data and bring together the analysis results in a way that provides these insights and these measurable actions. … [They] need to be able to know what actions [they] need to execute in response to these analytics….

Emphasis mine.

So many times when talking about big data, we get ourselves wrapped up in the technologies, processes and systems that we forget to think about the real reason we are even working with data in the first place.  Data is near worthless until it is analyzed.  Sure, you can put some ‘value’ on data but unless you turn that data into information (and then into knowledge) your doing nothing more than being a data hoarder.

So…to my data hoarding friends I say: Don’t focus on the data, focus on what the data tells you.  I don’t care if you have 1 GB of data or 1 PB of data, if you can’t turn that data into information and then knowledge, your data initiatives aren’t going to succeed.  Additionally, if you can’t communicate the insights gained from your analysis, your missing out on the real value in data analysis.