If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you might be thinking: what about the things that we hear so much about these days when we go to conferences or read business blogs? The media is full of stories about Big Data, data analytics, data visualization, dashboards and more recently AI. Surely, they will have solved these problems?

It goes without saying that better software tools are clearly good things. But it would be wrong to assume that there is a technological silver bullet out there that will solve all our problems, for the same reason that buying a Stradivarius is unlikely to improve your fiddle playing. 

Tools carry potentiality; they don’t deliver any results on their own. It takes hours of practice to play the violin. As far as data analysis is concerned most of us are still in kindergarten. Also, overplaying the technological card blinds us to the beautiful music we can make right now on our desktop machines if we only knew how. 

But there are other more fundamental reasons why I’m sceptical about some of the technological hype out there. Big Data is a new word that describes a phenomenon that is not new. But it has come to assume a much more prominent and important place in our everyday lives for good reason. We had lots of data back in the 1990s but what we are faced with now is a whole new ball game: 


There is a lot more data than there ever has been, and it is growing at an exponential rate. For example, IBM estimates that we are generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day, more than 90% of which was created in the last two years. 


The data is available much more quickly particularly if it is sourced from the Internet or smart devices like our phones or the sensors in our car. 


It is available in many forms. Traditionally data was highly structured – classified and organized – but today a lot of data is unstructured, particularly if it takes the form of text (e.g. tweets), sounds or images.  I shall go into Big Data in more detail in my next post.

This is an extract from Steve Morlidge’s latest book, Present Sense. Steve spoke at a recent GenCFO event.