Before we could get to Big Data - data sets that are so large that they need powerful tools to analyse them, and better tools for visualising them as networks or graphs or interactive infographics - first there was data interoperability.
Before you can access the enormous goldmine of Big Data to analyse your customers' requirements and trends in your industry, you need to be able to exchange data with your partners and customers.
This means that you either need to embrace interoperable data standards (a time-consuming and thankless task), or you need a tool that will convert data from one format to another.
The Next Big Thing
According to this article by Matt Turck, the next big thing after big data will be using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the enormous datasets and add value and business intelligence to your business processes.
Don't Get Left Behind
In the brave new world of Big Data and AI, the biggest players will be the companies that are using Big Data natively and naturally to underpin all their processes.
The first step towards being more like Amazon or one of the other companies that uses these tools is to automate your data exchange. Without that, there won't be any Big Data to analyse.
The next step is using the 'amazonisation of society' to improve your customer service, which in turn increases customer satisfaction, which increases business value. It's a virtuous circle.
Another key thing to understand: Big Data success is not about implementing one piece of technology (like Hadoop or anything else), but instead requires putting together an assembly line of technologies, people and processes. You need to capture data, store data, clean data, query data, analyze data, visualize data. Some of this will be done by products, and some of it will be done by humans. Everything needs to be integrated seamlessly. Ultimately, for all of this to work, the entire company, starting from senior management, needs to commit to building a data-driven culture, where Big Data is not “a” thing, but “the” thing.