Data Analytics: Deja Vu All Over Again

uptownfunk Have you noticed the striking similarities of the Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars song, Uptown Funk, to Morris Day and the Time’s style of funk?  My wife made me realize this recently and not a week later, I heard the exact same comparison being made in this NPR story.  I won’t call it stealing, but rather an homage to times gone by.  When you really stop to think about it, though, many ideas cycle through at regular every few years…so just like Uptown Funk borrows from a great history, data analytics today is a new, better version of the same ideas from the past.

Sometimes I can’t believe the marketing spin people try to put on things.  I recently read an article about a data analytics venture capital fund, Zetta Venture Partners. In the article it actually says that the fund invests in the “emerging field of data analytics”. If that’s true, I’ve been working in an “emerging” field for 20 years!

The whole notion that “Big Data” is new and novel is just silly.  Of course, there are new  technologies that enable companies to work with new types of data, process it much faster and store much more of it.  There are also new tools that make it MUCH more affordable than in the past (just check out Amazon’s price calculator).  However, the idea that data analytics is new is a bit of a stretch.  The “pitch” of all these new companies is that they will help unlock business insights that are hidden in the data.  That was the same value proposition used by Business Intelligence of the ’90’s and 2000’s.

Then I read an article in CIO.com (no less) that provided – IMHO – very little value in giving advice for executives looking to get into the “burgeoning world of big data”.  I understand the article is well-meaning but I would think that most executives really don’t need to read it.  The simple fact is that it is really advice on outsourcing (or deciding what to outsource). So let me bring back a bit of retro myself.  Think a bit more broadly and embrace an “old” article from 2008.  I believe the advice is just as valid now when considering building or buying new analytics tools and expertise.

I highly recommend investing in new data technologies.  They are much better and more affordable than in the past.  Just don’t think that this is some new industry.

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Veteran technology professional and manager

Posted in big data, business intelligence, data warehousing

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