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How Big Data Can Get You In Trouble

        posted by , November 26, 2012

Big data is information that's too large to process with conventional architectural approaches and tools.

Technology and business trends such as social software, data integration and internet of things have the ability to generate massive amounts of data that's potentially valuable.

New tools and architectural techniques allow all that data to be processed and analyzed. There's intense business interest in the potential to leverage these large data sources to build competitive advantage.

In other words, everyone is excited about big data. In this boom-like environment it's common for organizations to make strategy mistakes. Common pitfalls include:

1. Solution in Search of a Problem

Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh.
~ Charlie Sheen
You can't pay the rent with big data. Big data can translate to business results but it isn't a business result in itself.

Instead of using data to solve business problems, many organizations start with the idea that they need big data. This is a recipe for non-productive investment.

2. Offending Customers

Privacy is not something that I'm merely entitled to, it's an absolute prerequisite.
~ Marlon Brando
The brief history of social media marketing is already full of customer backlashes fueled by perceived privacy violations.

If you're planning to use people's social interactions to sell them products you need to tread carefully.

3. Future Legal Compliance Costs

Every man should know that his conversations, his correspondence, and his personal life are private.
~ Lyndon B. Johnson
Future privacy laws may have hefty compliance costs. Significant regulations are already in the works in many jurisdictions.

Building your decision support and business processes on top of large repositories of aggregated data (especially social data) may increase your future exposure to privacy compliance costs.

Getting Big Data Right

Investment in big data should be driven by business goals and strategy (not vice versa).

A little foresight in governing data privacy may save you future compliance costs. It might also prevent a public relations misstep.

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