We're knee-deep in Big Data stories, but are they adding anything to the debate, asks Lucy Davies (@LucyDesaDavies)
Another week, another 10 Big Data stories down – all, rather worryingly, lacking any type of consistency or presenting anything new. Never has a B2B label become so mainstream in a relatively short period of time, or ignited so much discussion that the conflicting viewpoints may prevent IT decision-makers from getting an accurate picture of the current uptake, value or potential of the technology, and what it can enable organisations to do today.
Over the past couple of weeks we’ve heard about: a huge rise in Big Data adoption and organisations placing greater value on their data, versus businesses stifling Big Data adoption, organisations not seeing ROI from Big Data initiatives, and IT departments struggling to manage Big Data. The issue is that so many varying perspectives can be quite disruptive, making it difficult for the industry to see beyond the hype or understand whether making a significant investment in Big Data analytics will actually pay off.
This raises the question of how valuable are these news-generating stories in the long-term, and what impact do they have on purchasing decisions? Perhaps vendors should leave the health-check to the analysts and start talking about the real-world benefits of Big Data analytics which could help them to make a greater impact. This means that potential customers would have the necessary proof points they need to convince the rest of the business to invest. Currently, those type of stories are few and far between, but the ones that do hit the right note certainly stick.
A couple of stories over the past month that have certainly done so include how Big Data was used to stop New York restaurateurs from illegally dumping cooking oil down street sewers, or how a group of children in Calcutta, India, literally put their slum on the map by using data in order to improve access to government aid which in turn significantly increased polio vaccinations locally.
As communications professionals, we should be focused on raising the bar for our clients and helping them to create the bigger, more impactful, and potentially riskier stories, and doing the due diligence so they pay off. After all, becoming an industry bellwether is an unlikely reality for many vendors, and commenting on the state of the market is going to be short-lived and only deliver so much.
For the savvy, talking about the socio-economic impact of technology has the potential to become one of those stories that people constantly refer back to. Likewise, organisations that really invest in the things that matter most to them, such as skills, education and training, and give back to the next generation of IT decision-makers are a clever bunch.
The opportunity is there for vendors who have a play in the Big Data conversation - everyone from storage, analytics, networks, and software providers – to move the conversation forward and get a stake in the ground by being one of the first to demonstrate the real value of Big Data, rather than just commenting on the number of organisations adopting it.
Lucy Davies is an Account Director working within the core enterprise B2B team in the Technology practice at Edelman, London. Lucy drives strategic media and influencer engagement programmes for global B2B brands, and has worked at Edelman for 5 years.
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