Final Thoughts

There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns–there are things we do not know we don’t know.1

—Donald Rumsfeld, while serving as U.S. Secretary of Defense, February 12, 2002

Thanks to forces like mobility, the social web, and the consumerization of information technology (IT), we are living through a permanent data deluge. Enormous data sources are emerging faster than ever. Few intelligent people believe that collectively we’ll generate and consume less data tomorrow than we did yesterday. Big Data is here, and I’m far from the only one who believes that it is changing the world.2

Rather than ignore or fight this inevitability, individuals and organizations of all sizes, types, and industries should embrace it. At some point, just about every employee, department, and organization will face the daunting task of doing more with less. Some will face this challenge sooner than others. And this goes double for the public sector. While not elixirs for fixing the thorny fiscal and budgetary messes in which many agencies find themselves, technology and Big Data are without question part of the solution.

Chapter 2 described the characteristics of Big Data in some detail. Some of those characteristics are in fact limitations of what data can do, no matter how big it gets. That is, data can only tell us so much; even Big Data certainly ...

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