A Big Data Backlash?

Are we already tired of hearing about Big Data and it’s potential to add data layers to business like never before? Gartner research director Svetlana Sicular thinks Big Data is about to plummet off the “peak of inflated expectations” into the “trough of disillusionment.”

That, off course, is Hype Cycle terminology. Sicular’s thoughts are based on a series of conversations with IT professionals over the past few weeks, in addition to a roundtable with Hadoop vendors Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR. She writes:

I heard from the very core of the Hadoop movement that MapReduce has always been Hadoop’s bottleneck or that Hadoop is “primitive and old-fashioned.” (…) My most advanced… Hadoop clients are also getting disillusioned. They do not realize that they are ahead of others and think that someone else is successful while they are struggling. These organizations have fascinating ideas, but they are disappointed with a difficulty of figuring out reliable solutions… Formulating a right question is always hard, but with big data, it is an order of magnitude harder, because you are blazing the trail (not grazing on the green field).

However, Matt Sasy over at ReadWrite points out the following:

And yet, these same companies don’t seem to be giving up on Big Data. For example, DataSift plowed through 2.2 million Twitter mentions by more than 981,000 authors, as Ovum analyst Tony Baer reports, finding that positive mentions of Big Data vendors outnumber negative mentions by 3-to-1. And while Baer acknowledges that “Twitter streams are not a scientific focus group for detecting brand awareness, they provide a valuable window on market thinking.” Indeed, given the levels of Big Data hype, it’s surprising that the overall mood about Big Data remains overwhelmingly positive.

So what to make of all this? In my opinion the argument that Big Data’s outsized expectations are bound to crash in to a more nuanced and realistic discours of expectations is a valid one. However, I do not feel like the sentiment around Big Data is turning from positive to negative.

So where are we on the Hype Cycle then? Considering Big Data was still on almost every trend list for 2013, the reports on the huge investments within the Big Data market and the fact that a lot of companies are still figuring out how Big Data might apply to their business… I would argue that we are still working our way towards the peak of inflated expectations.

I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter, so please share yours in the comments.

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