As with all major decisions in life, it is tempting to sit back and wait for a clear path forward to present itself. Similarly, business leaders may wish to wait for a clear trend to emerge before making a transition towards using big-data approaches within their organization. Some people believe that big data is just a hot topic that will eventually fade away and that continuing with business as usual is a sustainable solution. Big data is indeed a buzzword that means different things to different people. For many, merely processing large volumes of data is sufficient to claim that they are dealing with big data. After all, few would admit to working with small data for fear of appearing unsophisticated. However, processing data is not sufficient. The holy grail of the big data revolution is to construct a seamless framework for ensuring that leaders of business and government are able to consume this data and use it for making decisions and informing policy in a truly knowledge-based society.

Big data strengthens an existing trend in the computerization of every aspect of our lives, as witnessed through the automation of many of the tasks that have been traditionally performed by humans. Automated systems have already replaced receptionists and are now routinely used to answer telephones. By extracting basic information from us, they can direct us to an appropriate department. The response, “The computer says no,” coming from service providers highlights ...

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