Changing the World: Big Data Deep Dive Part 1

The problem with Big Data the buzzword is its elusiveness.  The more we try to define Big Data, the less applicable the effort.  We might as well try to pin down the Internet.  We’ve reached a turning point in Big Data’s journey, one that requires no definition.  Big Data’s ready to be contextualized, appreciating its multi-facets like a good wine.

There are so many ways Big Data will impact our lives, from the economy to education.  Breaking down some real world examples to contextualize Big Data, EMCtv’s Richard Schlesinger sat down with SiliconAngle founding CEO John Furrier and Wikibon CTO Dave Vellante. In the first part of this series, the panel examines some of the ways organizations are leveraging analytics to generate business value and, in the case of the Rio de Janeiro municipality, to raise the living standards of over 6 million people (full video below).

The Most Exciting Thing…


Schlesinger starts by bringing up the Human Face of Big Data, an EMC initiative aimed at painting a digital picture of the Big Data world using end points as the brush – smartphones, tablets, and every other connected device that consumers have on them when they’re out and about. The goal is to find out what it means to put a human face on raw information – a question that Schlesinger forwarded to Furrier and Vellante.

Furrier, a serial entrepreneur and founder of SiliconAngle, pegs Big Data as “one of the most exciting things” he’s seen in his career.  Vellante believes that it’s going to “change the way people look at technology,” but stresses that Big Bata can be intimidating for consumers. Individuals may be concerned about how their data is used, but there is no changing the fact this technology will become a fundamental aspect of our lives in the foreseeable future.

Cities are among the many environments where Big Data can and is being leveraged to benefit the bottom line – in this case, the greater good.  Vellante lists waste management and public safety as two areas that can be improved with the help of analytics, and Schlesinger points to Rio as a prime example of a municipality that is doing just that.


Old vs. New: Look at Big Data


Next up, Furrier discusses the old and new way of looking at data: unstructured versus structured, spreadsheets and algorithms versus gut feeling. He talks about the people who are driving this change, recalling an interview with Strata chairs Alistair Croll, & Edd Dumbill  that he hosted last year.

“The original brief for Strata was that this was going to be about, not just Big Data, but also new interfaces to collect and share information, and ubiquitous computing that everyone can get to,” Alistair said. “That really changes not just work, but also how we play how we love [and] how we learn. The thing that drawn me to Strata content and the reason I got involved is because big data is really where computers touch people.”

Dumbill expressed a similar view. “People start off with maybe a pilot project, and then suddenly they find out – once they used Hadoop – that often it’s the unexpected things that are really creating values.”

Vellante believes that collectively, Big Data practitioners are the golden goose of the industry. He says that these professionals are creating use cases and tools that will help generate value unprecedented in scope, driving all kinds of positive changes around the globe.

photo credit: Werner Kunz via photopin cc