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Big data-KM’s bowl, water or goldfish?

A business reality

Knowledge management professionals have an opportunity to learn about vendors who are providing solutions to big data in an organization. Also, those involved with knowledge management have an opportunity to assemble a big data solution using cloud services and open source software. Assembling a big data system tailored to the needs of an organization is now possible. Data management systems from MongoDB, analytics from Ikanow, search and retrieval from Elasticsearch, and tools like Chef, Drizzle and Infobright are available as open source.

Three years ago, McKinsey & Company published “Are You Ready for the Era of ‘Big Data’?” (mckinsey.com/insights/strategy/are_you_ready_for_the_era_of_big_data). The analysis includes an example of capturing the actions of one firm’s major competitor: “The competitor had made massive investments in its ability to collect, integrate and analyze data from each store and every sales unit and had used this ability to run myriad real-world experiments. At the same time, it had linked this information to suppliers’ databases, making it possible to adjust prices in real time, to reorder hot-selling items automatically and to shift items from store to store easily. By constantly testing, bundling, synthesizing and making information instantly available across the organization—from the store floor to the CFO’s office—the rival company had become a different, far nimbler type of business.”

Sidestep the philosophical arguments about fish, bowl and water. Big data is a business reality. KM professionals have an opportunity to deliver significant, measurable benefits to their colleagues. As science fiction author Philip K. Dick allegedly said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” I suppose I am a fish swimming in the water in a bowl. I want to be a smarter fish by adapting to the new environment.

Big data is here to stay.

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