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Why Big Data is Hype (and Why It's Not)

        posted by , December 24, 2012

Big data is hype!

Big data is an earth shaking innovation!

Sounds inconsistent? It's not.

Most game changing innovation is surrounded in hype and myth.

Big data is no different. Ridiculous big data hype is easy to find. That doesn't negate the fact that it's an idea that's likely to change the world.

Big Data is Hype

Big data is a technique for storing and processing large sets of mixed (structured and unstructured) data at high speed using cloud technologies.

If you talk to parallel processing experts, they'll tell you big-data-like capabilities have been around for more than 20 years.

In other words, as new as it may sound. Big data isn't really new. Sure, there have been innovations ... but the fundamental idea has been around for a long time.

The main difference now is that big data is being commercialized — rapidly.

Big Data is the New Internet

A good analogy for big data hype is the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.

The Internet was well established by 1971. Nobody cared. It wasn't in the press. No one discussed it outside a tiny circle of researchers.

In the mid-1990s everything changed. The internet was rapidly commercialized. Suddenly, it was the topic of conversation everywhere.

Internet hype peaked in 2000.

Companies with no business model and no hope could raise funding as long as they were a ".com". People said dumb things about dot-com and the media ate it up.

A dot-com company didn't have to make money to be successful — website visitors were the new currency.

In mid 2000, reality hit. A massive shake out followed. Weak internet companies imploded.

The same pundits that spewed internet hype declared the internet dead.

The hype and weak companies disappeared. The internet went on to exceed all expectations.

Like the internet in early 2000, big data is near the top of its hype cycle.

Pundits compare big data to money. That's dangerous. There are a lot of steps to converting data into money. Website visitors aren't money and neither is data.

Money is money.

The Promise of Big Data

Despite the hype, big data will go on to change the world.

For more than 30 years, organizations used relational databases to process data. They are beginning to augment these capabilities with big data.

Big data can do things traditional databases can't do — process unstructured, high volumes of data at high speed.

Companies such as Google have already shown the commercial potential of big data. Others will follow.

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