Big Data at Strata Conference

I had the chance to join a great discussion on Big Data last week at Strata. Video below.

Based on the dialogue, I highlighted 3 points:

1) My view of the Big Data ecosystem that is forming

2) Why Hadoop-alone may mean failure for enterprises in 2012

3) Why the application server market is a better analogy than the database market, when it comes to Big Data

I will do longer blog posts on each of these topics soon.

Lastly, based on a few requests I received, here is the chart I used on the Big Data ecosystem:

5 slides

There are few skills as valuable as the ability to take a complex topic and boil it down to a digestible storyline that anyone can understand. Time and again I see people that make a complex topic even more complex, due to volumes of data and information, but little insight. To be sure, this is a learned skill. But it starts with acknowledging that simple. Whether you are selling to a client, a peer, or your boss, there is no communication skill that is as valuable as being able to simplify and provide insight.

The best test for this is to take any idea/presentation that you are working on and force it to fit onto five slides. This will force you to focus on the key messages that you want to get across, the data that you need to support your messages, and the insights that you can provide. If you can do this in 5 slides, you probably don't even need all of the other supporting slides that you already created. This is also a great test of how well you understand a topic. I recently saw this quote: "If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough". That rings true to me.

In Jack Welch's book, Winning, he has an entire chapter on the idea that any company of any size, should be able to explain their strategy in 5 slides. More recently, I found this commentary on the web, which makes a similar point.

Hans Hofmann, an influential German painter, once said, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”