Thursday, October 18, 2012

Big Data and the Empoprises FECES Rule of Corporate Me-Tooism

For those who missed my May post, allow me to restate the Empoprises FECES Rule of Corporate Me-Tooism:

Trust me, if FECES suddenly became a trendy acronym that all the cool kids were talking about, then you would have Microsoft, Google, Apple, Oracle, IBM, and everyone else climbing over each other and loudly declaring, "We are FECES."

And they would be correct. :)

Back in May, I was talking about the term "cloud," and how everyone was falling all over themselves to say cloud this and cloud that. Larry Ellison has taken another hack at redefining "cloud" recently.

But in the world of trendy terms, there's a new kid in town - "Big Data."

Now everyone is talking about Big Data. The tech magazines are talking about it. The vendors are talking about it. And it's a life or death issue:

In healthcare, experts say Big Data empowers caregivers, scientists, and management to make better decisions that have the potential to save lives, improve efficiencies, and decrease costs.

But before you start calculating how many more bingo parlors you will need to house all the people whose lives have been saved by Big Data, remember that (1) you actually have to capture the data, (2) you have to convert that data into information, and (3) you have to act on the information.

The third item is especially hard:

Drawing upon my own experience, I know how difficult an organizational transformation is. Even if you have the data and the analysis that shows things need to change, it requires much more than data analysis. Let's assume that the data uncovers opportunities for improvement, either in reducing cost or in increasing revenue. The next step is to design the changes in processes, in people's roles, in org charts and in the systems. This usually entails a two pronged approach; communicate the change in org charts, processes and roles, and engrain these changes in the systems to track the change results.

(And yes, I'll talk about organizational transformation in my forthcoming book also.)

But that won't stop every salesperson from talking about Big Data. Maybe we'll hear about Big Data in the United States in early November, when election returns are analyzed. ("Based upon our Big Data analysis, this network predicts that....")

Eventually (or perhaps sooner) Big Data will jump the shark. Someone will enlarge a picture of Brent Spiner. Some male rapper will talk about his Big Data. Some contrarian will extol the virtues of Small Data.

But no matter. By that time, tech publications will have raked in millions of Big Dollars from advertisers, tech conferences will have had Big Attendance, and everyone will agree that the topic is a Big Deal.

At least until the next trendy term comes along, and the Empoprises FECES Rule of Corporate Me-Tooism needs to be invoked again.
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