1A Little History of Big Data

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

—George Santayana

There was of course a time when data was not the craze, in vogue, and all the rage. For many years I would go to cocktail parties and could not admit to working with data and analytics without driving most people away in boredom. I often diverted the subject to discussion of travel, food, sports, the world financial markets, art, or anything else that had more popular appeal. This all changed with the 2003 release of the book and subsequent movie, Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt.1 When asked what line of work I was in, I could now proclaim, “I do Moneyball for Business!” It was like I was the new Brad Pitt. I now enjoyed being at the center of conversation. It was at this juncture that I realized that data and analytics had become fashionable.

We live in a time when data is in the ascendancy. It was not always this way, though. Before there was a Google, before terms like Big Data came into vogue, and before jobs like data scientist and chief data officer became sought-after positions, data and analytics were considered a niche area, relegated to back office practitioners in market research, statistical analysis, and actuarial groups. The processing of electronically maintained data was referred to by the quaint moniker of electronic data processing (EDP).

For the better part of a generation, even as data progressively entered the mainstream and became more prevalent, ...

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