How is Big Data Like ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’?
"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" is defined in the film "Mary Poppins" as "something to say when you have nothing to say," which has started to become true with the term "big data."
About six months ago, I personally committed to never uttering the term big data ever again. I'll admit that it hasn't been easy. I've slipped a few times, but I've gotten back on the wagon. (They don't make a transdermal big data patch … yet.) Do I think that what big data stands for should be outright banned from our marketing vernacular? Not at all. The reason I banished the word from my vocabulary is that the term itself means too many things to too many marketers and, conversely, nothing at all to a large number of people.
"The Rise of Big Data," "The Death of Big Data," "Harnessing Big Data," "Avoiding Big Data," these all make for attention-grabbing headlines in articles, webinar titles and in general business conversation, but my challenge to you is to clearly communicate what big data means to your business and how it applies to your work as a marketer rather than letting your audience interpret the meaning on its own. Based on my unscientific survey, you'll have a lot of nodding-head listeners thinking many different and occasionally really bizarre things.
I conducted an unscientific, but nonetheless informative and revealing survey of client service reps, account managers, marketing team members and even IT professionals and asked them to define big data. Guess what? No two answers were alike. Not even close. It seems the term that's seen everywhere hasn't gotten its point across very well.
While definitions from my survey ranged from broad ("important data in a big database") to clearly over it ("the matrix of methamphetamines, a cavernous warehouse full of interconnected spider webs, Wal-Mart"), I will confidently say that simply using any of the descriptions above ("Rise/Fall" or "Harness/Avoid") will not effectively explain your big data situation. (By the way, that last definition was not from the IT guy.)
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