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The Era of Big Data is For Real

Usually, I am the first person to reject a new fad and it is quite possible that I am misreading what “Big Data” is all about.  However, the more I understand – once the hype is taken away – the more I come to realize that Big Data is here.  This post is to provide a brief overview of what I have found and believe.

Between the beginning of mankind and 2003 the world has accumulated somewhere between 3 to 12 exabytes (exabyte = 1 million terabytes) of data according to David Houle, author of Entering the Shift Age.  By 2010, we create in aggregate 3 exabytes every four days.  Information overload, anyone?

All of this data is not useful, but it is big.  The key will be to collect only those data that are useful.  I believe that this will bring in a new era of new knowledge.  Yes, a lot of it will be waste at the beginning.  However, as I look to the future and progress on collecting data we would previously have categorized as “unknown and unknowable.”

If you remember, it was W. Edwards Deming that spoke of data that are “unknown and unknowable” – meaning we really don’t have the data we need in organizations to make good decisions.  Things like what is the price of losing a customer and how would you measure it?  What is the cost of a disgruntled worker?  These would be categorized as “unknown and unknowable.”

I am not saying that we will have the best data to make 100% decisions, but as more data are collected in the Shift Age there will be additional shadows cast on data we did not have before.  Houle sees the rise of new jobs that are data purely data focused.  This is probably true, but how we go about finding and collecting the right data still seems the most worthwhile path.

What are your thoughts on Big Data?

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organization futurist.  His organization helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer and design organizations based on new knowledge.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Quotas for Innovation?

Listening to more senseless drivel on CNBC, we need more innovation in the US.  The investment community’s answer . . . quotas for innovation.  Here we go, quotas, rewards, incentives to get innovation.

How about the design and management of work as a huge opportunity for innovation.  Redesign these pieces and we might even get competitive.

Think of it we don’t need a CIO (Chief Innovation Officer) or quotas or other dysfunctional lame-brain ideas like this.  We need to engage the minds of those on the front-line and use the other 90% of the organization that are deemed not educated enough to innovate by command and control managers.  A missed opportunity.

Then, we have all these poor work designs that do everything possible to “dumb down” the worker with technology, front/back office, scripts, standardization and the list goes on.  How about a change of pace?  Engaging the brains of these folks.

I hear it all the time, they aren’t interested in “that” they just want to do their work.  This thinking is pitiful, I have never found a worker not interested in their work . . . beaten down, yes . . . but all are interested.  Many workers think management couldn’t be any dumber, just managers aren’t in earshot of these comments.

Making all employees and their jobs relevant takes guts, but the rewards are innovation and unrivaled culture.  People love their job when given decision-making responsibility and not just accountability.  Workers deserve a better work design and managers would benefit greatly from this thinking.

The barrier is scores of years of productivity and financial brain-washing that has pushed us to having quotas for innovation.  After all, why not?  They exist for everything else.

Electric shock treatment withstanding, there is a need to rediscover the individual worker through better management thinking and better work design.  Innovation through quotas is more of the same wrong thinking.  When will it all end?

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at info@newsystemsthinking.com.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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