Dell Debates Big Data in 1, 5, 10 Years

Where will you be on Groundhog’s Day 2016? What about 2020 or 2025? Unless you are Bill Murray or Andie MacDowell, answering this question and predicting the future can be tricky stuff. Yet Dell recently called together some friends to attempt just this sort of long-range prognostication around big data.

I was recently joined on a discussion panel by the brilliant Rebekah Iliff (Chief Strategist at AirPR), the ever-curious Jai Menon (Chief Research Officer at Dell), and the lovely Matt Wolken (VP and GM of Dell Software), and then again with a wider group of technologists for a bigger roundtable.

A few major themes emerged:

  • Everyone needs big data. It’s not just the domain of massive and wealthy Fortune-type corporations. As I’ve said before, merely having a big data deployment isn’t going to be competitive advantage for long, creatively reinventing business around the data-derived insights will be mandatory for success. Increasingly, there are options that are easy enough for any business to get their feet wet, not drown in complexity.
  • Business intelligence ate itself. Sure, everyone likes to reflect on last quarter’s sales numbers and celebrate/panic. Yet, traditional BI didn’t ask enough questions, and it tended to look to the past. Newer approaches let customers go deeper, be in the moment, and event predict what may come next. And then ask another question, without waiting six months for IT to rebuild the BI application logic.
  • Functionality trumps privacy. Or is it the other way around? I was a minority, nay, lone defender of the younger generation who looks at an application primarily for its benefits, not its privacy risks. I’m quite willing to quantify and share many aspects of my life to get better healthcare, insurance, and friendships. Imagine a world in which the ads show me stuff I am genuinely interested in ... The group did all agree that governance needed to be a more active part of the story.

There were more technical discussions around Hadoop, databases, and other components, but the major ideas weren’t about any specific vendor's roadmap or upcoming features. Instead, the vision of ten years out was all about transforming business and society for the better. Dreamers gotta dream. Now let’s work together to make the dreams real. Big data will show the way.

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI