All the attention, hype and money is pouring into Big Data. It’s the way to get big budgets, lots of attention, and big salaries. Delivering real value to normal human beings is so mundane an aspiration that it is beneath the dignity of those involved with something IMPORTANT like Big Data to notice.
The most important thing about Big Data is not that it’s big. It’s usually not so big! What’s important is that in the world of Big Data, what you mostly think about is Data and the fact that it’s Big. It’s a data-centric perspective, with all sorts of specialized software, equipment and knowledge. It’s also a faith — everyone involved is certain that wonderful things will soon pour out of the Big Data pipeline — once we get this, that or the other thing worked out. Of course, we can’t be sure what those wonderful things are — that’s what’s so great about Big Data, it affects everything!
The most important thing about Little Data is not that it’s little. Although it almost always is. What’s important is that you mostly think about the people your organization serves, where and how they waste their time or get frustrated, and how to use computers and data to make things better for them. The problem is first identified, and then the relevant data is rousted up, organized, and made part of the solution.
The first thing I heard was “I see you’re calling from a number in your profile, David. Would you please say or enter your PIN code?” That’s nice. It’s a feature they’ve had implemented for a while. Saves time and makes me feel like they know me, even though I know it’s all just software.
After I entered the PIN code, I heard “I see you’ve been on the USAA website looking at wire transfers. Would you like to send a wire today, David?” Wow. Would I like to send a wire. WOULD I?? I sure would like to send a wire, USAA, thanks for putting two plus two together to make my interaction with you just that much more convenient. So I said “yes.”
This is a single small example. It’s not game-changing or earth-shaking by itself. But imagine if all organizations looked at things from their customer’s point of view and found ways they could save time and increase convenience for them, like USAA obviously does. Little Data can change the world, very much for the better.