Gartner is arguing that “big data” is at the “peak of inflated expectations” on its infamous (and brilliant) hype cycle. In other words: big data is hype. Is that right?
Obviously, there is a lot of hot air around “big data,” and I like to make fun of that hype as much as the next guy. Recently, I noticed hard-cover “understanding big data” books on sale at an airport…”buy one, get one free.” I kid you not. So yes, there is hype.
But from an investor point of view, does this matter?
For the “hype” argument to really matter, it would imply that there is going to be a collapse in the perceived value of “big data” efforts at the enterprise, leading to a decline in demand for “big data” vendors. I just don’t see that happening. Enterprises are starting to work through the piles of data they have been gathering for years. This is part of a multi-decade mega-trend in IT. Step one was digitization. Step two was instrumentation. Step three was storage. And step four, which we are living through now, is analytics. Yes that’s really high level, but it’s directionally true. Enterprises are not going to stop trying to extract analytical insights from their data - and most enterprises have a pretty good sense of what sorts of insights matter. Now that the tools exist, that effort to derive value from data is not going away.
A lot of big data start-ups are going to fail because lots of start-ups always fail. A lot of VCs who got sucked into the big data hype without understanding the fundamentals, or arrived late to the party as the value of enterprise investment was rediscovered are going to lose a lot of money. But the big data effort at the enterprise isn’t going anywhere…