Let's talk about big data

The above quote was unearthed by BMI-T analyst Clinton Jacobs while he was preparing for the big data roundtable. Research seems to indicate it was first coined by Dan Ariely, but the true origins of the phrase goes back at least 20 years to when Bill Inmon apparently said the same about data warehousing.

Aside from being slightly amusing, just as it was two decades ago, it does appear to describe the state of big data activity quite accurately, certainly in South Africa.

Moving on to more serious outlooks, Jacobs’ first question for the assembled panel involves context: “Can you put big data in context, especially as it relates to all the technology we’ve been using in the past – data warehousing, business intelligence (BI) and analytics? And how do you determine if big data is for you or not?

Gerhard Botha, CTO of PBT Group, reckons there’s significant overlap between BI, data warehousing and big data, but not necessarily an interdependency. “You can have a big data solution outside of BI and, similarly, you can do BI quite well without big data. But there are some places where your BI solution can’t handle the volumes or the variety of data. And for that reason, you need the [big data] technology,” he says.

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