Getting Past Big Data Hype

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By Jacob Maslow

Big Data on smartphone
Businessman checks the financial analysis on smartphone

In all the years that I’ve been covering financial news, one of my biggest pet peeves is the power of tech jargon. Too many investors get too excited about the latest and greatest tech trends when, in reality, they’re simply warmed over and rehashed versions of existing trends.

One of the biggest trends currently in the tech space that gets a lot of venture funding as well as investor attention is big data. Everybody seems to be all gaga over big data. This is supposed to be the next big thing. Social networking and mobile computing were in the past. Now, big data is supposed to be the big deal.

The problem with all this hype is that too many investors, both in the United States and Western Europe, are throwing good money after bad investing in companies that simply pimp the term “big data.” The reality is really far from what you hear in mainstream financial media.

The reality of big data

You only need to look at online advertising blogs and venture capital blogs to see the barrage of articles hyping big data. However, when you look past the hype, you’ll notice that big data, as it’s currently defined, suffers from a major problem. The problem with big data is that it only comes primarily from government sources. You basically use government sources with in-house tools, and you have a big data analytics set. This is not a big deal. Why? Publishing houses have been this doing forever.

The reality is that there is no open-source data of consumer information out there that you don’t have to pay. It’s the biggest stumbling block of big data. Not surprisingly, most of the hype about big data is all about developing in-house tools that enable large enterprises to slice, dice, and make sense of the data they’re already getting. This may sound exciting, but this just puts us back to square one. Big data is everywhere; unfortunately, it can’t be accessed unless you’re talking about government data.

The real future for big data is better data coordination among big enterprises that can lead to bigger data-management opportunities. Otherwise, you’re simply looking at a simple software-development play. This is nothing to write home about.

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