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“Big Data” is Under-Hyped


November 17, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

“Big Data” is big and it’s going to get bigger. The Gartner Group has a useful tool, known as the “hype cycle” that traces technologies through the “peak of inflated expectations” and through the “trough of disillusionment”. It seems to me that there are some nuances between truly disruptive technologies and more incremental innovation. Real technology disruption operates in overlapping waves:

  1. Naming: something is going on that defies current technology definitions, so it gets named, the more contentious the name, the more likely that it represents something new (like Web 2.0)
  2. Open source: the problems solved by the new technology are shared among organizations spurning significant open source innovation
  3. Glamourization: the cognoscenti start talking about it and the concept starts to percolate among press and analysts, top ten lists follow
  4. Denialism: those whose living is based on specialization and/or legacy technology claim that the new technology promise can not be met by showing how it’s not magically solving problems that they have been unable to solve (like Evgeny Morozov with his notion of “solutioning“)
  5. Confusion: confusion reigns because the name of the technology isn’t entirely intuitive – in this case, the “big” part of Big Data is only one element
  6. Hype fatigue: everything becomes about the new technology, even when it isn’t
  7. Subsumed: legacy technology vendors start to extend the definition and extend current products  – we end up with odd ideas like “private cloud”
  8. Grounded: the technology becomes accepted and integral – it’s the process that Marshall McLuhan called moving from “figure to ground

We seem to be near-peak in waves 4 to 7. All major technology vendors have “big data” solutions of some description. These solutions are hyped – that’s what major enterprise software vendors do. The transition to the final stage, grounded, will occur when benefits across multiple domains and markets are proven by early adopters. My sense is that big data will become the driven force behind insight and innovation with cloud computing, social media, mobile and the Internet of Things, as enablers.

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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