Big data needs a know, someone who can think

The topic of "big data' seems to be everywhere.  I read the Wall Street Journal nearly every day and even though I think of big data as a technical realm, it's showing up in the daily business paper more and more often (e.g. How Big Data is changing the whole equation for business).

So what to make of it?  Big data needs a brain... and not just any brain.  A brain that can connect the dots.  A brain that can deduce correct conclusions.  A brain that has contextual understanding...

A few years back, I had a staff of 25 analysts working for me.  These were really smart people.  Strong technical skills, every one of them.  But, you know what?  Not everyone contextually knew the business... and not everyone could do analysis and draw useful conclusions...

It's really nice to have a big brain.  It's generally very impressive... and I've know plenty of smart people throughout my career... but what the CEO wants to know is how to make money, how to grow revenue and how to keep customers happy... and coming back for more.

Not everyone can do this.  Yes, Watson the IBM computer that beat Jennings is a marvel, but most companies don't have Watson in their hip pocket.  I know, IBM is turning Watson into a service but for most companies outside of the Fortune 100, massive government users or institutional users, Watson might as well be on another planet.

For the rest us that are digging into "big data" hire some really smart people, with great technical skills, deep contextual understanding, a healthy dose of deductive reasoning and the silver tongue of a best selling author...

And for those of you that are writing code for the BI peddlers of the world, you know, the brilliant ones that have responsibility for creating the tools that let the rest of the marketing world look the touch of a button... find the same person mentioned above and please, make sure they're a talented analyst that can bake that contextual understanding into that wonderful new tool set I'm going to buy year...

You get the picture, don't you?  The advancements are great.  The onslaught of "big data" is wonderful, but make sure you have a brain in that person who's making the decisions about your business.  Someone still has to make decisions...somewhere... in the code, in front of the customer or in the board room... eventually, it comes down to a real live person making good decisions...decisions that will increase customer value.


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