About a year ago, I heard the following two lines from well-respected IT professionals.

The first comment:

1.) Big data is the future

And the second::

2.) Big data is hype

These comments were uttered by people I truly respect. These two professionals have been around IT for more than 20 years each and have been involved in some very big projects. Additionally, both are very experience data and analytics professionals.

So, when you hear two completely opposite opinions from two people you respect and trust, it should make you sit back and think.

The above comments were shared with me during two separate meetings with both people. These meetings were informal get together between old friends to just chat about what we’d been up to in our careers.

The first comment was shared with me over lunch. This particular meeting was about the implementation of some technologies and processes that would allow his organization to really dive into data and analytics to begin to really answer some long-standing questions about the business.

The second comment was shared over a phone call during a catch-up meeting to follow up on a project proposal I had been involved with. During this call, IT Pro #2 shared the “big data is hype” comment as the reason for why the project wouldn’t be going forward. I tried to dive into more detail about why this person felt that ‘big data was hype’ but he wouldn’t go into more detail other than to just say ‘big data is nothing more than business intelligence’.

Last month, I reached out to both people as a follow up to see how things were going.

Professional #1 who believed in the future of big data had been promoted to a senior leadership role within IT and was managing multiple projects within the organization involving big data. The organization had been experiencing growth over the past year and had been improving services and products based on analytical work with the data they had been collecting.

Professional #2 was still in the same role he’d been in when I last spoke with him. The organization he works for is doing well as they are a in a market that allows for high revenue and margins. Unfortunately for my friend, the organization hired a ‘big data expert’ to come in and build their big data expertise, systems and processes.

I asked my friend (Professional #2) if he had changed his mind about big data. He quickly said no and that he still feels it’s nothing but hype. He also shared that he’s bit dejected that the organization is ‘investing’ in what he considers hype.

The moral of this story?

Don’t let your personal opinions get in the way of doing what needs to be done for your organization. Regardless of whether you think big data is hype or the answer to everything, there are some real valuable things any organization can do with data and analytical approaches.

I’ve said before that big data isn’t the answer and I continue to say that because it’s true. Big data isn’t the answer but the approaches found within big data can help you find the answers.

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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