Forrester: Big data deniers must separate hype from reality

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Any technology trend that catches on too quickly will attract deniers who call it a fad or just the same old technology under a new name. Big data certainly has its detractors and deniers, with some criticizing the terminology itself and others disparaging the promises of great insights as either a pipe dream or a privacy nightmare. Forrester research says they should get over it: big data is the future.

"Some people are deniers. They are actually saying, 'Oh we have been doing big data for 30 years and that's just hype.' Well, any new term can be hype. There are people who dissed social media. Is that hype?" said Mike Gualtieri, a principal analyst for Forrester research, in an Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) sponsored video series called Big Thinkers on Big Data.

Big data began with technology, but it was motivated and inspired by companies like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), which Gualtieri called the most successful big data analytics company in the world. "Those are the companies of the future," he said.

Citing an example of automatically receiving a bus schedule on his new phone after only a few weeks of use, which included usage along his daily bus route, Gualtieri said it was both creepy but awesome. He compared it to having a butler.

"A butler is not in your face; it is over your shoulder and there when you need it," he said.

While wireless operators, driven by churn rates, will be leaders in big data analytics, he said, it will be pervasive across industries. He cited the often used example of Starbucks knowing its customers when they walk in the door, but with a twist, going so far as to say they will be using tools such as facial recognition as well as facial analysis to identify a customer's low blood sugar.

"It might sound like science fiction, but it's not. The Department of Homeland Security already does facial recognition with mood analysis," he said.

He added that supermarkets are already crunching volumes of data to determine where to put products on their shelves and next to which other products. And hospitals are using it to lower re-admittance rates.

"It isn't just a trend to wait out. It is for real," Gualtieri said.

For more:
- see the Intel Big Thinkers on Big Data series

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