Will the Big Data Balloon Burst?

In Big Data, Data & Analytics, Featured on App by Vaughn Highfield

Will the big data balloon burst? (Image: Flickr Tony VO)

The validity of Big Data has been under fire recently, with more and more industry individuals speaking out against the blanket data adoption and mass generalisation it leads to in dealing with what customers want.

The latest came from a tirade made by advertising guru Sir John Hegarty, saying that supermarkets focused far too much on data and not on what was actually going on around them.

"Supermarkets have an incredible amount of data coming in to them and they didn't realise they were flogging horsemeat to people," said Hegarty.

"I think there will be a huge backlash and people will say ‘That's not the world I want to live in'. To brands that say ‘I understand you', I say f**k off, you don't understand me. Mind your own business. I don't want to be understood by you."

The trouble is, Big Data is what something that analytics software producers want to keep going and keep on side – it's also something that large companies with reams of consumer data want to keep juicing.

According to The Economist, the big data industry is worth $100bn globally, growing twice as fast as the software business as a whole.

So, when's the bubble going to burst?

Will it ever burst?

It's unlikely it'll happen any time soon,  but there are some measures to take to actually make use of big data without being blown away by its scale, or losing everything valuable into a big sea of generalisation.

What you need to do is group your customers by common features and then take small and representative samples to ensure that you know what the general consensus is on a certain sub-section of your customers. That way you get a generalise view that isn't watered down to apply to far too wide an audience.

You also need to make sure that you know exactly what you want to be looking for. It's pointless to collect and extrapolate data when you haven't even got a clue about what you need it for. Going in with an idea or marketing strategy means you can either prove or disprove your thoughts – which will enhance your marketing strategy either way as it'll always get better.

You also need to train your employees. It seems that far too many are unaware of how to even use the systems in place for analytics. According to Harvard Business Review, only 44 per cent of workers claimed to know where they had to look to find the information they needed for their day-to-day work.

Do you think you implement your big data strategy properly?

Do your employees know how to use big data?

Do you disagree with these thoughts?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.


Big data can be a big problem for some, that's why at this year's Europe's Customer Festival big data will be cut up into bite-sized chunks and big data gurus will dole out their wisdom for all to understand. It's free to register your interest too, so why not go and do it?