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Towards the end of 2014 I gazed into the amazingly incredible crystal ball called Good Strategy, well known and admired by the readers of the Good Strat Blog, and made some predictions about Big Data for the year to come. The year of the goat. As I write now we are reaching the end of the wonderful year of 2015 – an anno quite-allrightus. So, equipped with good cheer, emboldened by the thoughts of passing the vacations with loved ones, friends and family, and heartened by my impending (albeit temporary) demobilization, I have decided to look back at my predictions of a year ago, to see how accurate or mistaken they ‘have become’, and to share those reflections with you.

But first a joke from Stewart Lee:

“People feel like they’re defined by where they live, where they’re from. Americans, for example, are very proud of being from America. I used to love the Americans, but I went off them last year, the Americans, because of them all ganging up on the bloke from BP. Do you remember? All the Americans picking on the bloke from BP about that oil slick. It seems unfair, doesn’t it, given that America is the largest consumer of oil per head in the world and they seemed annoyed with the bloke from BP for merely trying to provide them with the oil that they craved. Americans, picking on the bloke from BP. It’s ridiculous. It’s like a furious customer punching a prostitute in the face because he’s sickened by his own desire.”

Prediction: The value of the big data economic universe will reach 125 trillion EUR

What I said: Amazing? But true. The Big Data economy of 2015 will make the industrial revolutions – with the attendant inventions, innovation and progress – look like a jaded walk in the park.

“The actual figure of 125 trillion EUR comes from market research specialists Aunt Dolly and Company, and it extrapolates the financial stats and economies of scale of three major Big Data players, namely Crock, Shlock and Barrel.”

What happened next: As we know, the value of the Big Data economic universe did not in fact reach 125 trillion EUR during 2015. This was due to a number of factors. Firstly, the year coincided with elections in Argentina, Spain and Myanmar. Secondly, we have had the Climate Change COP OUT in Paris. But most importantly, the rise of the BBC and the MSN has drawn a lot of attention away from the Big Data market. BBC being Bale, Benzema and Cristiano of course, and MSN being Messi, Suarez and Neymar. All in all, these factors have held significant sway.

Bottom line analysis: It looks like 2016 will be the year for Big Data.

Prediction: People will show amazingly less inhibition about using and sharing other people’s data.

What I said: That’s right, you read it here first. Big Data 2015 will herald an inflection point in the casting off of anti-social and anti-market and anti-consumer constraints that burden the sea-change renaissance that Big Data will undoubtedly deliver.

What happened next: In spite of the best will of the consummate consumers amongst us, the government high-ups decided that exposing ourselves to all sorts of data vagaries was not in our own self-interests, and as they know better, well, there was no argument to be had. The industry balked, the leaders simply hardened their stance, bolstered their measures and started looking at even more anti-trust and taxation laws.

Bottom line analysis: There has been more personal data available for commercial use, but nothing like as much as the ‘we want it all’ companies would like.

Prediction: Machines will learn to take decisions based on Big Data

What I said: You read it here first. In 2015, machines will learn to support the decisions of the ‘right-thinking people’ and their ‘right-thinking orthodoxy’ by leveraging Big Data to the max.

What happened next: A lot of nonsense was written about this, along with a lot of other Big Data nonsense. Very little of which actually turned out to be true.

Bottom line analysis: It’s always good to throw machine learning into the mix. It makes it appear that we actually know something about data, logic and cognitive psychology, even if we don’t.

Prediction: Everyone will be doing it

What I said: Just like everyone in the whole known world possesses a smart phone, internet connection, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts, so too will this unstoppable momentum mean that everyone who is anyone will also be doing Big Data.

What happened next: Damn you, Dan Ariely. Thank you for nothing for bad mouthing my predictions, scuppering my musings and mining my ambitions. Especially with evil Facebook messages such as “Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it…”

Bottom line analysis: Things will definitely change in 2016, when everyone really will be ‘doing it’. That’s a ‘keeper’ too.

Prediction: Big Data will democratize skills and demonetize property

What I said: Do you look up to the demigods of Big Data evangelism? Do you want access to all the prohibitively expensive and costly published opinion, business and technical tomes on Big Data? Are you exasperated by not being able to fulfil your Big Data potential? Do you want instant skills?

Well, fret thee no more, dear reader.

In the year of the goat everyone who wants to, will be able to become a Big Data guru, Big Data whizz or Big Data big cheese. As I have explained elsewhere (7 New Big Data Roles for 2015) there will be a plethora of new roles and responsibilities in what will be a burgeoning 125 trillion euro Big Data economy.

What happened next: None of the above happened. Well, at least not in 2015.  But at least Athletic Bilbao turned in some star performances.

Bottom line analysis: Milton Keynes will become the cradle of Big Data civilization. Mark my words.

Prediction: Big Data will explain the meaning of life

What I said: If we all hoard all of the data that crosses our paths, and then unite this data in a Universal Big Data Repository – a database so very large it will make the data that the Large Hadron Collider people collect seem like mere grains of sand in the Sahara desert – we will surely, with the aid of big data science, big queries and the mastery of grown-up ‘equations’, discover at last the mystery of the world and the meaning of life.

What happened next: Nothing! It didn’t happen, right!  I am not going to make up excuses for the slight deviation in this prediction. Things just happen. But if things had happened differently then we might have been right. So do not despair. All is not lost. Those who fight then run away, will live to run away another day.

Bottom line analysis: So, don’t bother me about this! Talk to the kid… But, remember. He’s not the Big Data Messiah, he’s just a very naughty boy.

Prediction: Businesses and organizations will find previously untapped big data talent

What I said: By the end of 2015 there will be 4.4 billion people employed around the globe in big data management and analysis roles (see 7 New Big Data Roles for 2015). Yet this will not be enough to carry forward over to 2016. By the end of next year more than 1200% of businesses across the pond will have big data strategies in place or will be planning their 3rd and hopefully the most successful iteration of Big Data, according to a survey conducted by my Aunt Dolly.

What happened next: Things didn’t pan out entirely as I thought. I can only put it down to some bad info I received from some Big Data duffer living in a caravan just off the A1. This is what happens when you try and pay for inside information with a few slap-up lunches at the Greasy Spoon Café.

Bottom line analysis: It will definitely come in next year. Absolute favourite at Ascot. So, I am assured.

Prediction: Data equation tools will dictate the market

What I said: In 2015 there will be a mass of new launches of specialized software designed to use equations with data, making it easier for us to do complicated math, beyond subtraction, addition, multiplication and division.

What happened next: Yet another prediction that I got spot-on. Now we can build the equivalent of a Big Data Texas Instruments calculator for the fraction of the cost of sending a space mission to Mars, there’s no stopping us.

Bottom line analysis: This is the rule that proves the Big Data exception.


So, there you have it. These have been my Big Data predictions for 2015, and the ‘what happened next’ come back. Which can be aptly summed up by this fabulous quote from Big Data Master, Peter Cook, who famously said:

I saw an advertisement the other day for the secret of life. It said “The secret of life can be yours for twenty-five shillings, sent to Secret of Life Institute, Willesden.” So I wrote away, seemed a good bargain, secret of life, twenty-five shillings. And I got a letter back saying, “If you think you can get the secret of life for twenty-five shillings, you don’t deserve to have it. Send fifty shillings for the secret of life.”.


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