An excellent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Big Data, Big Blunders,” discussed five mistakes commonly made by enterprises when initiating their first Big Data projects. The technology hype cycle, which reminds me a lot of The Wizard of Oz, is a contributing factor in these blunders. I’ll briefly summarize the WSJ’s points, and will suggest, based on my experience helping clients, why enterprises make these blunders.
Anyone who has been involved in IT projects over the years will find nothing new in these five blunders. Enterprises have been making these blunders in every new technology wave, including analytics, the first wave of data warehouses, dashboards and self-service BI.
Why does history repeat itself? The technology hype cycle is so powerful that enterprises continually stumble in their initial projects for the latest wave. Often these stumbles are quite costly (and career damaging.) Vendors, analysts and pundits typically pitch the latest technology wave as solving all the problems encountered in the previous cycles. Just as the Wizard of Oz creates the myth of his power (don’t look behind the curtain), so do pundits proclaim the latest technology’s wizardry.
Google “Big Data” and you will see the magnitude of the media blitz on the subject. Big Data is proclaimed as the data nirvana for enterprises that have been struggling with “old fashioned” data and its associated tools such as relational databases and SQL. This time it will be different and an enterprise need not worry about information management.
Big data will likely be similar to the initial web wave: the Internet Bubble. The web did change the world as the people hyping it at the time proclaimed, but not before many enterprise failures and vendor bankruptcies. It took much failure and more hype than the pundits thought, and it is likely Big Data will follow some of the same path.