Big Data without Context is Worthless


Allen Johnson

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
- Mark Twain

These days, if you’re in business you’re likely buzzing about Big Data. Everyone is. Marketing guys like me are trying to figure out an angle to exploit it. What we are buzzing about is an unimaginably expansive universe and we know intuitively there is value to be gained or lost in there. Use whichever analogy you like. It’s the wheel of fortune. It’s a haystack with a needle somewhere within. It’s a pile of river sand that contains a fleck of gold.

Maybe that’s why an allegedly sane generation of business people is charging lemming-like to cliff’s edge. And that presents a particularly vexing problem for business and data professionals alike.  How does the organization decide where to look in that universe, haystack or pile of sand to find that which helps outcompete and outperform competitors?  The answer lies, I think, in a single word.  Context.

Context is our guidepost. In the data world, context is provided by metadata. That metadata can be used to describe everything from data types to data usage. If that metadata is part of a larger information model incorporating multiple aspects of an organization, you have a well-defined mechanism to determine what is and is not impactful to the business.  With the warp-speed emergence of big data as a key concern for business people, one can logically expect that the Business Expectation-to-IT Delivery gap we found in a survey of 430 companies gets even wider. By developing a rich contextual model by which to measure what is important, the size of the universe/haystack/pile of sand just got small enough to manage.

The distance between cliff’s edge and canyon floor may have just closed up enough to make that leap survivable.

A rich, business-aligned context for data usage may be what keeps IT professionals sane when the world around them seems not. We promote the concept of a Business Information Model to deliver that context and quickly arriving at one can only benefit both sides of the organization. But it’s the classic problem of two professional disciplines speaking two incompatible languages. So how do you quickly get to that oh-so-important model? Here’s a 2-minute video and 3-steps that can start that process.

Watch the 2-minute video »

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