There’s going to be a lot more rhetoric next year about decisions, big data decisions, and decision automation.

I think we’re going to hear a lot, and, that’ll fall into three big categories of rhetoric.

The first is to argue ‘this-changes-everything!’ Panderer’s are gonna pander. And, it’s a really great line to say that it’s paradigm shift. You know, in ten years, farmer’s aren’t going to farm anymore, they’ll have just fields and fields of big data servers and fields and fields of crops. A farmer isn’t really going to be a farmer as we think of them today, but they’ll be much more like a data manager. Every technological disruption brings in a crop of these folk, and that’s fine. We’re at the point now where we can predict them.

The second is to introduce a ‘this-means-new-decisions!’ argument. On this point, not everybody wants to hear it. It sounds scary, and unnecessary. And if it isn’t popular, it’s unlikely to be repeated.

The third is to state that it “it makes what you’re already deciding…better!” line. In short, all you have to say is that ‘sure, big data might be disruptive, but you’ll feel the biggest impact in what you’re already doing today’. Such a line sounds both safe and better.

In short:

  • “Paradigm shift!” / “GameChanger!” / “GetOnBoardOrGetLeftBehind!!!!”
  • “Sure, use the data to inform better decisions, but also use it to compete against others who are seeing much of the same data to compete better. Situational awareness are the table-stakes, and you’re going to have to drive better action from unfamiliar datasets to really outcompete.”
  • “This new stream of information can make many the routine decisions you already make, better.”

This next wave of data will have the following characteristics:

  • It will be big n, in other words, there will be a lot of it.
  • Much of it will be big m, in other words, each n will have many features.
  • It will be high v, in other words, it is capable of coming at you quickly.

Big n, m and v will have to confront institutions.

Institutions are made of people that have norms, rules, logic, and their own understanding. Historically, institutions don’t do so well with data that is big n, m, and v.

And so,

I’m tremendously optimistic that these new data sources are going to enable the brightest people within the most flexible organizations to realize new markets, opportunities, and drive second-order decision making. The 2010’s will reward those people.

You are unlikely to hear much of such rhetoric in the mainstream, because it is not mainstream rhetoric. It’s in an uncanny valley between the feel-good-fluff of paradigmatic pandering, and, the nuts-and-bolts pragmatism of decision optimization.

And that’s fine. We’re all people and we are all distributed normally.

Those are my predictions and the rationale, for what they’re worth. It may be a good idea to formulate your own perspective now, before rhetoric really starts up.


I’m Christopher Berry
I’m at Authintic.