Less Data > Big Data?

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Big Data, Big Data, Big Data etc… We hear it all the time. There are more and more analysts talking about it, more and more conferences debating it…

It’s true, data is getting bigger.

Look at social media; Tweets, Instagram’s, Facebook posts, Selfies (or as I once embarrassingly labelled them when talking to some of my daughter’s teenage friends, Facies….)

Look at what’s going into the cloud; our documents, music, videos, photographs in fact anything that can be rendered digitally that is either taking too much room on our shelves or too big to fit on our latest 2 zillion petabyte £30 memory stick.

From a technology perspective it’s “look at this we can store oglobytes of data across quad zillions of servers so that we can put all of that data that you might be interested on disk for £50 per month…” and “We can out compute ‘Deep Thought’ on a chip the size of a pin head… which is about the power needed to do a simple search over this massive data bin we’ve created…”

So there’s loads of data, but as I keep telling myself, surely size isn’t everything?

Isn’t all that data making it harder for me to find things rather than easier?

Is finding something relevant becoming more and more like finding a needle in a haystack or part of a plane in the Indian Ocean?


As the MD of a software company, I remember a few tales about “size isn’t everything…”

I remember asking about reporting over SAP…

“Have you many reports available over SAP?” I once enquired.

“Yes… we have over 4000 reports” was the reply…

Hmmm, I thought, can’t be too easy finding a relevant report to run when there is so much irrelevance available…

To me, I accept there is a lot of data but we don’t need to store it, we need to sift it and find out the small pieces of relevance that mean something to me and my business.

The biggest challenge is making sense of an ever increasing and diverse set of information and pulling items of relevance and joining it all together. Creating a web of connections that allow us to build a 360 degree picture across all of the different contact points and turn that into insight that can be used to improve sales, reduce cost and improve customer satisfaction and retention.

Perhaps it’s more about the breadth and quality of the data you bring into your organisations not the size.

Perhaps it’s not about size, it’s about girth?

I’ll leave it that… sometimes less is more.

Relevance beats irrelevance every time.

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