Chapter 4

Big and Little Data

Different Types of Intelligence

“Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough.”

—Mark Twain

It’s amazing how the amount of data to analyze has grown so dramatically during the last 20 years. We remember the days before the Web, before big data, before social media, and before mobile, when an annual customer survey, a customer database with basic information, retail purchasing data from a third party, or credit reporting information was about as rich or as detailed as the data would be that a company hoped to analyze. Back then, it was possible to build a nice information-based business from something as simple as conducting regular benchmark surveys and selling the results to companies. At that time, companies were flying by on less information than they needed, and there was simply no flow of deep customer, competitor, and industry information compared to what exists today. Gut feel, or instinct, was a prized business characteristic, and it, rather than data, drove many corporate leadership decisions.

Compare that to today, where now almost every aspect of life can be tracked in one way or another by someone, whether it be data from Web behavior, mobile phone usage patterns, in-store shopping activity, public surveillance videos, GPS tracking data, automotive driving patterns, physical fitness data, social media data, satellite imagery, video streams, or car telematic data, and the list goes on and on. As a result, data are the business focus “du ...

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