Cutter Consortium: Big, Bad Data?

InsightaaS: Cutter Consortium is an IT advisory firm focused on software development and agile project management. Cutter’s blog site site presents “opinions on and reactions to what’s happening in business technology.” In this post, Ken Orr – fellow of the Cutter Business Technology Council and Government & Public Sector practice and a senior consultant with Cutter Consortium’s Data Insight & Social BI, Business Technology Strategies, and Business & Enterprise Architecture practices – looks at how data usage erodes public trust in suppliers, concluding that “Big Data is in danger of coming to mean Bad Data.”

The Middle Ages used a phrase to describe a term that was not meaningful as “a distinction without a difference.” Oftentimes, in the desire to catch a technological/marketing wave, salespeople and consultants overuse terms coined to describe one thing to mean something entirely different. Not long ago, I was reading an article in the New York Times about department stores tracking their customers by using their wireless devices, using their movement through their stores to predict what they were interested in and what they bought. The article described this as yet another instance of the importance of Big Data. The more I read, the more I found this reference both comical and disturbing.

Clearly, there was nothing necessarily big about the data involved here. The amount of data needed to be collected and saved was relatively minor in order to track the potential customers, what they might have looked at, and what they bought. Indeed, the data in this case had nothing really to do with Big Data other than it might be thought of as “social media data,” with which Big Data is becoming unfortunately synonymous. What was happening was that organizations were simply finding cheap (and secret) ways to use data accidentally provided by people with mobile devices…

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