Ever since I started working on SAP’s big data initiative , I have been having a hard time defining what exactly is big data . So, my gang and I had many a discussion and figured out that the best way to figure this out is to talk to customers . I called this a “listening tour ” – visiting customers to not sell anything or to solve any problem, but just to listen to them on what they think of big data .
One CIO put it explicitly on my face – the 3V model doesn’t work for him at all . In his eyes – this is just a vendor view of the world . Volume , variety , velocity , etc are all characteristics of data and doesn’t tell him what is the BIG deal . I mentioned this to Doug Laney on twitter and he confirmed that of course it is a data management theme that he meant when he/Gartner came up with it in 2001 .
Other customers also gave me versions of this view – they all are curious about big data , but they can’t see what the big deal is . Doing the same analysis that they do today with just a lot more data didn’t sound like anything worthwhile .
“Real time” and “Right time” access to data resonates with most of them – and they see value in that . This is of course a good degree different from just a few years ago .
As I looked across all the responses – one thing stood out . There is only one big V that matters to customers – BIG VALUE.
Two somewhat related definitions came out in how customers seem to think about the concept of BIG VALUE .
1. insights that cannot be figured out by current options (in techniques, storage , usability etc ) that can some how be made available by BIG DATA
2. “power of one” – if insight can be narrowed down to one customer , one user , one product etc – in the context of a useful transaction , then BIG VALUE is delivered . This is also the aspect where real time and right time comes into play meaningfully for customers .
3. Big value is equally obtained by figuring out what “mistakes” happened it past that no one found so far , and by forward looking predictive and prescriptive insights
So how do customers expect this BIG VALUE to be delivered to them ?
1. Via a Platform – that lets them store and compute without worrying about an upper limit , at an affordable price point . Security and other “enterprisey” things are a given – big data doesn’t get a big pass .
2. Via special skills – as in data science skills .
3. Via applications – apps that give users easy access to insights in an interactive and visual manner , without having to know how data is organized behind the scenes , or learning special technical skills to use the app .
Listening tour will continue , and if there is anything interesting I can share , I will post it here