When Bill Gates said that there would be a PC on every desk and in every home, most of us thought he was stark staring mad. And yet here we are, not many years down the line, with huge numbers of us owning home PCs. The same can be said of social media – who thought that telling the world about your every move would catch on?
Turning these mad ideas into something we can all use takes energy, enthusiasm, commitment as well as the ability to convince others the idea has merit.
And that’s where we find ourselves with what I think is the next technology revolution – Big Data. We’re right at the very start trying to figure out what how it all works, and how we convince people that it will help their organisations.
At Portal we want to play our part which is why we’ve started the Big Data Debate with the goal of bringing greater understanding to the technology. To kick things off, we held a debate at Marco Pierre White’s new steakhouse restaurant in the City with senior people from across the technology spectrum gathered to talk about Big Data. The three questions we posed were:
- What do we mean by Big Data?
- Is it a new challenge, or a new name for an old challenge?
- Is big data an economic driver or just a ‘must-have’ to be in the game?
The debate was engaging, entertaining and at times passionate as those at the sharp end of technology talked about their experiences. Interestingly, there was frank disagreement on some of the questions, particularly the definition of the phrase Big Data but there was considerable consensus on other matters, not least of which is that Big Data is becoming an increasingly important part of the IT armoury.
The challenge felt by many, particularly those that need to engage with non-IT audiences, is persuading them of the incredible possibilities opened up by today’s technology. Sound familiar? Remember the days before mobile phones were as common as they are in 2012? Imagine trying to talk to someone from the mid-90s about our way of life; about how we use phones for every facet of our lives, from listening to music to playing games to taking pictures.
That’s the problem with technology revolutions; it takes a while to get going but after a little while, you wonder how you ever did without it. I don’t think it’ll be long before we say the same about Big Data because there’s no doubting the views in the room during our debate that Big Data is here to stay and will deliver almost limitless business benefits.
We’re planning on doing further debates so if you’ve got some thoughts about how we hasten the revolution, then add your comments here or tweet us @chooseportal with #BDdebate
Blog post written by Dave Beeston, Head of Information Management at Portal (@bigdatadave)