Small Data Is A Thing

but not something you should brag about just yet.


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I told a customer that I’m interested in “applying techniques from the Big Data movement inside small and medium businesses.” Now when they introduce me I get things like:

Zac is our Big Data guy.

Zac was born in the fires of Big Data.

Zac is our Big Data expert; he loves Big Data more than life itself!

After our last meeting the gang was walking back to the elevator and as we stepped on I said that I wanted to rebrand myself and be introduced as the Small Data guy from now on. The entire elevator looked at me and let out a collective “meh.” They were wholly uninspired by that idea.

Small Data isn’t sexy and it’s definitely not a buzzword, but it is a thing! Perhaps even a budding movement.

The best resource is the Small Data Group by the folks at Actuate who just published 10 articles you need to read to understand the small data landscape .

They put together a definition of small data that I love:

Small data connects people with timely, meaningful insights (derived from big data and/or “local” sources), organized and packaged – often visually – to be accessible, understandable, and actionable for everyday tasks.

I have witnessed so many times in my career small and medium businesses stumble in that last mile where it is time to deliver value from data that we have worked so hard to collect and cultivate. The small data movement shines the spotlight on this last mile.

A recurring theme of this blog will be exploring technologies and concepts that align with the promise of small data.