When my friend Mike Minelli asked me to write this foreword I wasn’t sure at first what I should put on paper. Forewords are often one part book summary and one part overview of the field. But when I read the draft Mike sent me I realized that this is a really good book, and it doesn’t need either of those. Without any additional help from me it will give you plenty of insight into what is happening and why it’s happening now, and it will help you see the possibilities for your industry in this transition to a data-centric age. Also, the book is just full of practical suggestions for what you can do about them. But perhaps there’s an opportunity to establish a wider context. To explore what Big Data means across a broad arc of technological advancement. So rather than bore you with a summary of a book you’re going to read anyway, I’ll try to daub a bit of paint onto the big picture of what it all might mean.

This foreword is based on the thesis that Big Data isn’t merely another technology. It isn’t just another gift box en route to the world’s systems integrators via the conveyor belt of Gartner hype cycles. I believe Big Data will follow digital computing and internetworking to take its place as the third epoch of the information age, and in doing so it will fundamentally alter the trajectory of corporate evolution. The corporation is about to undergo a change analogous to the rise of consciousness in humans.

So let’s start at the beginning. ...

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