In 2010, the United States government enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act, intended to combine the best of public and private insurance coverage for the population, and thereby controlling and reducing healthcare costs. The act, better known as “Obamacare,” has not been without controversy, and almost brought the country to default on its debt. The plan was enacted to enable citizens to gain lower rates for healthcare coverage, and requires them to interact with the government via a website to do so.
The system is, in essence, a big data implementation problem, with data being collected on a potential population in excess of 300 million people across the entire country. Unfortunately, the project has not progressed as planned, and has become mired in technological controversy. Analysis of the issues underneath the controversy does, however, present many lessons for IT project management teams on the dangers of underestimating the complexity of a big data system implementation.