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To begin at the beginning

Hold this thought: Big Data is King.

Is there just nothing that Big Data isn’t capable of fixing? From terrorism, world hunger, Ebola, HIV, fraud, money laundering and hiring the ‘right’ people through to winning the lottery, curing hangovers, arranging entrapment and finding the love of your life. Big Data is King.

I have it on good authority that by 2016, Big Data will be at the forefront of everything we do, think and wish for. In the era of unending benefits, options and possibilities, what more can one say other than ‘All hail Big Data! Our spiritual leader and mystical guiding light’.

Which brings me to the subject of Harry Potter.

Big Data and Harry Potter

There’s a series of Harry Potter books written for children, yes, children’s books written for children. Not written for adults, but for children. Anyway, there are a lot of Harry Potter books, with an amazing range of popular titles, such as Harry Potter and the Mitten of Mirth (apologies to Stewart Lee), Harry Potter and the Piece of Wood and Harry Potter and the Crock of Crap, and so on and so forth. All of which reminded me of the fantastic Big Data promotional material that can be found on scientific, technical and management blogs, and also on the social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

As a tribute to Harry Potter, Big Data and those who vaingloriously and thanklessly schlepp the hype, I have rewritten some of the amazing and almost unbelievable Big Data success stories in the style of postmodern children’s literature.


Big Data and the Pot of Tea

Now who doesn’t love a lovely cuppa? From Indore to Idaho, Dubai to Dortmund and Beijing to Birmingham, it’s the breakfast drink of champions, the soother of pains and the bringer of temporal peace.

But did you know that if it weren’t for Big Data, we wouldn’t know how to brew a proper pot of tea. You see it’s all in the value chain, the data and the fresh boiling water, naturally.

If it weren’t for Big Data, then tea growers wouldn’t know what they were doing, they wouldn’t know when to plant, when to nurture and when to harvest, they wouldn’t even know what to plant, or even why – without Big Data they would be completely stupid. Likewise, the processing of tea without Big Data would lose all sense of being and purpose, which leads me to logistics. Without Big Data it would be impossible to move the exabytes of tea from one side of the world to the other. Fact!

But the most important role of Big Data in all of this is simple. If we hadn’t been able to use Big Data to analyse the results of how everyone makes a pot of tea, and the feelings of satisfaction or disappointment they gain from that process, then no one could even make a decent pot of tea, anywhere, and they wouldn’t even be motivated to engage with the process never mind the tea brands.

Now that really is food for thought.

Big Data and the Piece of Work

It is official, the fact that dared not speak its name has now been revealed: Big Data is helping to take the conjecture out of hiring and firing.

We can now leverage the amazing power of Big Data in the cradle-to-grave Human Resource process. This is the true democratisation of the world of work.

Because of the amazing correlations made by data scientists across massive HR datasets and golden nuggets from social media, we now know how to place people exactly in the organisation, in the approptiate roles and aligned to the appropriate responsibilities.

In the past we used to hire on the basis of personality, values, recommendations, knowledge and experience, certifications, qualifications, cost, and so on and so forth. All that has changed.

Big Data has determined that the most important asset that a job candidate can possess is aggregated mediocrity. No more heroes, no more geniuses, no more hard workers and thinkers, and certainly no innovators, because what most established organisations need, according to in-depth Big Data research, are workers who are dull, boring, servile and above all, mediocre.

How can we ensure that an employee sticks to the game plan? Now here’s a thought: just wire them up with wearable Internet of Things probes, and if they start to think too much or do too much or just exude an air of knowing too much, the system just automatically issues them with their dismissal notice, alternatively, the more humane organisations may consider the use of incentivised mild electric shocks administered via those very same IoT devices.

No longer will HR departments and line managers take the rap for hiring the wrong suits. Now we can blame it all on Big Data, or even better, the belligerent, alienated and disgruntled ex-employee.

Big Data and the Demographics of Destiny

Thanks to Big Data we now know that people (that’s human adults of a certain age or maturity) give birth approximately 9 months from the process point of conception, the people are invariably female, and the offspring are invariably of one sex or the other, in no special order of appearance.

Thanks to Big Data we now know that most people live from a ripe young age of approximately nothing (years of age) to a grand old age (of something), or not, and that this applies to various levels of demographic extrapolation, and is generally accompanied by an attendant aging process.

Big Data and the Universal Heater Malfunction

Whichever way you slice and dice it, the great Universal Heater in the sky is warming up the planet, and probably this is happening because of something we did way back when, or conversely, something that we persist in doing in the here and now, or maybe a bit of both.

Climate Change is reality. Heuristics together with dialectic and historical materialism showed Climate Change to be a fact, then science proved it to be true, now Big Data substantiates conclusively that true is frequently correct.

So, either you think that Big Data will save the world, as it most evidently will, or you might just dismiss it, along with Global Warming, as yet another scary Marxist-Leninist inspired technology plot and fad, which you most evidently can do.

Personally I think that Big Data is generating far more tonnes of equivalent Greenhouse Gas emissions than some people will openly admit to, and that the charges of Big Data collectivism are somewhat premature, foolish and misguided, even if they are suspiciously, precociously and predictably present, or hopelessly, recklessly and witheringly absent. Which either way, represents a dilemma within an enigma inside a hypothesis wrapped in swaddling clothes – to various degrees of certainty, of course.

Maybe we need to consider hedging our bets a little with the ‘angels of our better nature’. Either way, Big Data will be inextricably linked to Climate Change, Global Warming, Immigration, Emigration, Inhalation and Global Governance, which will keep a lot of curtain twitchers busy for decades to come.

Big Data and the Wrong Trousers

In the Oscar winning film The Wrong Trousers, the accidental hero, Wallace, thinking that it will make his life easier, becomes the innocent victim to a pair of automated ‘Techno Trousers’, that take control and carry him off against his will in directions and to places that he does not wish to go.

Wallace uses the ‘Techno Trousers’ thinking that it will increase his power and stride when he is out walking the dog – that’s Gromit, if you remember – but he is gravely mistaken.

Things get worse when the felonious penguin Feathers McGraw attempts to make Wallace, now locked into Techno Trouser mode, an unwilling accomplice to the theft of a diamond. Thanks largely to Gromit, the plan does not succeed, and Feathers ends up in jail. After his traumatic experiences, Wallace realises that the Trousers are not the valuable addition to his lifestyle that he once thought they were.

Which is pretty much sums up what can be said about some of the vast quantities and qualities of ‘valuable’ Big Data flowing through the data lakes and digital drains of the corporate underground. Some of it is as potentially useful and risk free as ‘Techno Trousers’, and may not be the valuable addition to your corporate lifestyle that you might have initially been told to expect.

But your idol may be Feathers McGraw, in which case the only sensible recommendation for you may be: do your own thing, Big Data baby! Word!

That’s all folks

So if you are a CIO, CTO or even CEO who feels an extremely strong affinity to Harry Potter, a series of children’s books, then you might also be fascinated by the whole Big Data hoopla as well.

But before I leave you, back to the thought… what about Big Data being King? What’s all that about then?

Well, every courtesan needs his monarch and court, and this is no different with the Emperor’s Big Data. All those pushing the Big Data showboat by dodgy means or foul, need a royal reference point, a shining brilliant light of data aristocracy and patronage in which they can bathe and frolic, oblivious to the trials and tribulations of the proletariat, and the organisations they seek to fleece. In the old days the monarchs would have names such as Friedrich II der Grosse, Aethelred II the Unready or Alfonso X el Sabio. Now they are named after fruits, brown sauces and Greek and geek myths, and others with even less imagination than sense, simply go for the old three letter acronym solutions, such as BOB, SUE or HAL.

Am I bothered by this? Should you or your organisation be bothered by this? Does this affect the price of bread or the quality of beer? Will this be the mommy and daddy of brazen hyperbole, manipulation and fraud to end all credibility, sanity and reason anyone has ever had, everywhere and anywhere, the whole world over?

No, not at all. This is a minor blip, blown up out of all proportions by the media foghorn of published (not public) opinion. So, down with the data Aristos. Vive la République! Vive la Résistance!

Many thanks for reading.