Frank Buijtendijk of Gartner warned us right at the start of the day. Nobody was allowed to say the H-word (Hadoop) before eleven AM. Annemarie-Jorritsma, mayor of Almere City and Big Data enthusiast, kept her promise. Almere has the ambition to become the Big Data Capital of the world and launched http://dutchhealthhub.nl/ where Big Data Infrastructure, storage and services for the medical world are enabled. Capgemini is a partner for this. In her keynote she explored the tough decisions that need to be made where privacy interacts with Big Data advantages. There is more possible from a technical point of view than morality allows. An important theme that resonated the rest of the day.
In all presentations it was made clear that Big Data can have Big Benefits for society. Whether it is curing diseases (breast cancer), preventing disease (Parkinsons), developing new and innovative products (like plan and seed breeding) or preventing stress at the airport (Schiphol).
What was different this time is that there was plenty of attention for the dark side of Big Data. Having such huge amounts of data available to so many people can lead to a power shift. Also if information is an asset, just like capital, than you will have information millionaires and information slum dogs. Technology will often lead to privacy and ethical questions.
Another take away from the day was the belief in hard facts, data science. Big Data analytics is quickly winning the fight from gut feeling and asks for more data to prove this. Even office e-mails about birthday cake are important, one obesity researcher remarked.
The added value of Big Data seems to be in the ability to quickly integrate data from various sources and put it to good use. There were many examples of a connected world where the added value was made clear. Schiphol Airport for example shared their customer journey, where an alarm clock was fed with information from traffic control, just to make sure that the passenger woke up in time to catch his flight.
Big Data: where are we
At the end of the day the conclusion was simple. We are standing on top of the Big Data hype cycle overlooking the landscape. We don’t know everything yet but we are looking for value. With the help of small pilot or proof of concepts. All within the vision and strategy of the organization. Supported by technology that enables us to connect these huge amounts of structured and unstructured data. And there was the H-word after all.