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The Hype of Big Data Revisited: It's About Extracting Value

Over a year ago, I tested the claim that Big Data was the most hyped technology ever. Using Google Trends, I compared the term "Big Data" with "Web 2.0" and "cloud computing". It turned out that the Web 2.0 and cloud computing were more hyped than Big Data (as measured by number of searches on the topics). At the time, however, Big Data was on an upward trajectory. So, I re-ran the comparison to see the current status.

As of the end of February 2016, the number of searches for Big Data appear to have leveled off during 2015, ending that year with roughly the same search score it had when the year started. Web 2.0, at its height, had more than double the searches than Big Data has ever had. Even cloud computing had more searches than Big Data.

Why the Big Data Plateau?

Figure 1. Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2015

Figure 1. Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2015

In between 2013 and 2014, Big Data reached the Peak of Inflated Expectations in Gartner's Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. By mid 2014, Big Data was sliding into the Trough of Disillusionment, and by 2015, the term was removed from the hype cycle altogether. Big Data, after all, is less of a technology and more of a phenomenon that reflects the quantification (call it datafication if you want) of everything. Even though interest in the term, Big Data, may have leveled off, we are deep in a world of streaming, ever-expanding, diverse data. The idea of Big Data is represented by different technologies in the Hype Cycle like Internet of Things, Advanced Analytics, Wearables and Autonomous Vehicles.

These new technologies are a reflection of the reasons why we collect data, to get value from it. As Andrew Oliver said in his article last year, Big Data is Dead -- Long Live Big Data, the "next big step is analyzing problems, finding patterns, and creating packaged solutions to those problems." It's probably no coincidence that Machine Learning and Citizen Data Scientists made their debut in the 2015 Hype Cycle. According to Google Trends, terms related to extracting value from data like the Internet of Things, Machine Learning and Data Science are all becoming increasingly popular search terms.

The hype of Big Data appears to have reached its pinnacle, but don't be fooled. The Big Data phenomenon (e.g., the quantification of everything) is here to stay. People are simply using terms that describe how they extract value from the data.

An earlier version of this article appeared on Mammoth Data.

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