Big Data has been on the Gartner Hype Cycle for quite some time already and there is not a single CxO or business decision maker who has not attended a conference or read an article about the Big Opportunity with Big Data. Things are certainly happening in the field of Big Data and the true value for organizations, large or small, are starting to materialize. What prevents this field from accelerating at an even faster pace? Lots of things actually but one of those things is the common misconception among non-technical decision makers (owning the budget in many cases) that Big Data by definition needs to address Big Issues – like finding the cure for the common cold, or the equivalent issue in the specific line of business.

One of the most interesting revelations for myself when starting to look at the opportunity with Big Data was that the underlying technical enablers for starting to address this opportunity (distributed compute platforms like Hadoop) actually made it possible to start addressing the many small opportunities for increased operational efficiency, more effective sales, better maintenance etc, that previously had been unattainable. With more storage and processing capacity available at a much, much lower cost (on demand, in the cloud) it is clear that economies of scale is part of the foundation of Big Data. With economies of scale, companies with confidence can start going after “marginal gains” across a multitude of business opportunities that almost certainly will create a return on investment for the technology platform, and provide the necessary experience to start targeting the Big Problems.
What if your new “computer” can replace some of your old stuff that you believed was irreplaceable? What if you with the same platform can improve your customer campaign conversion rates with 1 percentage point? What if the same platform could also increase your fraud prediction accuracy, and improve time from insight to action – with just a tiny little bit?
In summary, what I believe many business decision makers have to realize is that in order to start with Big Data – the small opportunities might actually be as relevant and as important as the Big One. Results will be quick(er) and ROI convincing enough to encourage the quest for the bigger opportunities with a solid foundation in place and top management really onboard.