Big Data is all the rage right now, but like websites, BI and social media before it, I’m betting that most companies will get Big Data all wrong. Maybe I’m being cynical when I say “most companies” – you see I am basing that statement on the unscientific study of email and phone calls that I receive. To help me explain my prediction, let me share two examples:
Near the turn of the century, we wanted to switch our database to DB2. I spoke to a local sales representative, but he became unresponsive when he realized that I was talking about less than 50 seats. I complained about this treatment in an online forum (yes, a newsgroup) and an IBM salesman from Toronto reached out to me offering to make the sale. He asked for my company name, or the customer number off of any IBM invoice. I gave him the number and then asked me: “do you still have that System-34?” I told him that the box was still on-site, although it was no longer in use. Then he asked me if we were still using Lotus Notes. I told him we were still using Notes. He updated our customer records with those bits of information and with my contact information, and then he sold me DB2. So you see, IBM, clearly one of the pioneers of Big Data, has always known how to handle the trivial little data too.
On the other hand, I bought a password management app for my iPad last year from a company that (apparently) was working the mobile app market only. They have since expanded their product line to all iOS devices, as well as other platforms, desktop software and cloud-based integration. I became annoyed at their incessant attempts to get me to upgrade, and I complained via email. The response I received began “Dear Customer” – Really, I thought, that’s the best you can do?
That’s the best effort I see from most of the companies I deal with and from virtually all the companies that I don’t deal with but who appear to want to do business with me. The percentage of emails that begin with “Customer”, “Dear Customer”, “Antion” or some misspelled variation of just my surname dwarfs those that address me by name or contain even a minimal amount of correct information about me or the company I work for, even when I have registered products with the sender’s company. This is why I think most companies will screw-up Big Data. They will either jump into it (at the expense of other projects) because it’s the hip new thing to do or so they can tell their board “Big Data, we’re all over that.” Or, some upper management pinhead will buy into some smarmy Big Data Analysis service, like the ones that are behind the webinars I am being invited to on an almost weekly basis.
People used to be guided by the quaint but practical expression “learn to walk before you run.” Today, we seem to react with fear to the fact that we aren’t running, despite not yet knowing how to crawl. I am not going to ignore Big Data, although our version of big is microscopic by comparison to IBM, but before spending a lot of time and money on the new hot topic, I am going to focus on finishing the following:
Personalizing the applications and apps that our employees use
Personalizing the websites that our customers and business partners visit
Complete the integration of unstructured content with the transaction data we use and create, to paint a composite picture of every person and business we work with
Establish and engage a meaningful following in social media
Then, if there is Big Data for us to use, we might be in a position to do something with it without embarrassing ourselves.#Management #Customerservice #IBM #BigData #deployment #planning