Big-data or Big Pie for all to get a piece of?

Occasionally every now and then comes a great product or technology that touches many lives and raises many hopes.

In, what has been a field for only big companies and established players for decades, namely Enterprise Data Warehousing, entered a disruptive technology that redefined the asset usage and promised high ROI. Fueled with community contributions, this small simple technique (of moving the computation to the data and not the other-way round), opened up the doors for many innovative products, leading to the proliferation of entrepreneurial spirit, and there by numerous start-ups, creating new wave of employment opportunities .

Now, let us give credit where it is due: the big players also had the possibility of “moving the computation to the data”, but it happens at a very small scale and a costly affair (which is a typical norm for the big players’ products) and they used to call them stored procedures. The only problem is, they do not scale (or need very high-end hardware spec to scale), do not run everywhere (except for the big players’ platforms) and need special programming/language skills to create and maintain them — all of which made those big companies ever more rich.

But this disruptive technology, often dubbed as big-data, demands no special high-end hardware, scales well, and yes you can more often than not start using your own existing programming/language skills to get started. And the focus point is: there is nothing these big players can do about it to stop it.

So starts an engineer who has ever dreamed of doing all those wonderful things with large data to perform wonders (such as getting to know the moment anyone mentions your name or identify anywhere on the internet anytime, or tracking your friends in real-time no matter where they are, or finding all restaurants nearby you in real-time no matter where you are) on the path of setting up a new start-up to realize his dream and win back his deserved position in the society.

An engineer with an idea who sees this new technology (that people fondly call as big-data) as a solution enabler to realize his dream of building a great product (which could not have been made possible without big-data), is a good thing to happen to any society.

Being a strategy consultant I am constantly approached by many such engineers and CEOs who are interested in making big-data work for them to build these great products they envision, and every time I hear one of their stories of what they want to achieve with big-data, it sounds more and more true that big-data is here to stay.

And then occasionally I get calls, from people with entirely different view and mindset. Make no mistake, These people love and cherish the idea of big-data to the core (perhaps even more than the engineers or CEOs who are dreaming of building products on big-data), for they see big-data as a money making cow and they are here to milk it as much as they can before others (if there are any more like them) can do it !!

They do not have an idea they want to realize. Nor they have a product they want to build. Nor exists there a problem for them that they want to solve with only big-data.

“You see GK”, they say to me, “we are a planning to enter this big-data analytics space as service provider and we are looking for a guy who can bring us orders”.

Ok, good to hear that. There are these other existing (…) analytics services companies that are already doing good in the market delivering similar services, what is your service strategy or the differentiating factor”, I ask them.

And then they try to “teach” me for about half an hour on what is predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics, what is big-data, what is wrong with those existing service providers — all without answering the question of “what is their service strategy or a differentiating factor

Fine…do you have a team?”, I ask them after surviving half hour of lecture.

Yes… we hired a great team of marketing/sales people to book orders. You see, we are a start-up services company, we need to focus on revenues first.” comes the reply.

What are your solutions Or products that you are planing to sell ..”, my question.

“.. We .. ahem.. may want to focus on solutions/products later couple of years down the line, but for now our priority is to generate atleast $2M revenue bookings in first two quarters…”, comes the reply.

“ ” — silence from my side.

What more can I say. These guys want to sell big-data analytics services without a single solution or product in hand.

Wow….I know big-data means complex work made easy. But never knew big-data means money-making made easy.

Why didn't any of those hard working big-data start-up guys think of making $2M revenues in two quarters just by order booking without ever having to build a solution or product !!

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