The Mystery of Just What Constitutes Big Data Continues

Perhaps no other point so vexes me when I read about “Big Data” than the now familiar absence of a clear definition of the term. I just read an article published today, Thursday, September 5, 2013 in the “CIO” blog of the Online Wall Street Journal, Financial Services a ‘Real Leader’ in Leveraging Big Data. Michael Hickens, the author of this short post, makes a point about the new proclivity of financial services firms to adopt “big data”: “Banks and other financial services firms are further along than most other industries in making use of predictive analytics, according to a study reviewed by CIO Journal.”

In fact, this statement appears at the very start of Hickens’ article. But there is no connection made between “predictive analysis” and “big data”, so I’m left wondering about the point at hand, and where the author of this post would like to lead me. I’m also recollecting the late 1990s, when neural networks were, once again, a really strong area of interest of financial services firms. In fact, these businesses actively pursued the design of neural networks in an effort to advance the accuracy and utility of “predictive analysis”.

So what’s new about this time around? Beyond a mention of Hadoop as the data repository of choice, there is no mention whatsoever about the features I’m following on the topic of “big data”, meaning unstructured data, metadata tagging, etc. Are these financial services firms doing new work in these areas? Are they implementing taxonomies as a way of organizing unstructured data? Are they using metadata tagging techniques?

Unfortunately, Hickens short article does not include detail on these points. I would hope authors, going forward, try to be more specific about just what they mean by “big data” so reader like me can derive more benefit from articles on this kind of topic.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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