I’ve never been a hugely detail-oriented person, but I know that at certain times it pays dividends to dive into the deep. We’ve all heard the saying “the devil is in the detail” but in the day and age of Big Data, I think that translates nicely into “the devil is in the data”, the trick is mining the data to find him!

The smarts is either knowing or having software that helps guide you to when and where to drill down into the data, generally because Big Data, especially done badly, is exactly that, an almost amorphous series of brain numbing and snow-blindness-creating data.

The Devil
– Thinkstock / MrAdvertising

So much of the world we live in today has in fact become data driven; it’s all around and most of us don’t even realise it. In fact those two words (“data driven”) hide an incredibly powerful capability that’s forming one of the fastest growing sectors of technology today, yet so many businesses have yet to realise the huge potential and insight it offers, and thus those that have often gain a massive competitive advantage.

I’m lucky enough to be in this business; I didn’t really intend to be here when we started out, but it became more and more obvious as things developed that the power of data analytics and predictive data modelling could unlock a huge treasure trove of knowledge and insight. So much so, that we’ve now reached a point where our technology regularly identifies hidden issues (thus opportunities) that raw instrumented data alone cannot reveal. In fact, when in raw format, those devils are incredibly hard to find; it’s certainly beyond the capability of any human or simple trend-based analysis.

I have to say that even after eight years of development it’s still blowing my mind; with every new advance we make, every new technique we use, the insight gets more and more powerful and revealing.

In the broader context, just think about the data trail that we all leave behind us just going about our everyday lives. While it’s logged and collected en-masse by many different companies and organizations all vying to learn more about our wants, desires, habits and movements.

In fact, knowing what’s possible, I find it quite a scary thought, how and who is using the insights that just one average day’s worth of data from your life (that you automatically leave behind you as you simply go about your life) reveal about you. Imagine what would happen if you put all the currently disparate data together and started cross-referencing and correlating it! No wonder the ‘spy’ agencies of the world have been having such a field day since everything went online!

Still, I’m not here to talk about conspiracy theories; I’m more interested in how data can be turned into Actionable Information, meaning I can make a more informed decision or take action well in advance of an undesirable situation occurring.

Many industries are using data analytics to learn more about their customers, their markets, their environments in the hope of improving whatever it is they do, and I’m pretty sure they will do so and in ways that will amaze us all!

So remember, the data itself is just the raw material and trying to view and interpret it directly is often not just uninformative but misleading! I’ve watched my own industry go through the realization that it needed better decision making information and so quite naturally started to instrument everything in the hope that collecting data would lead to more knowledge. It’s the right starting point, but ultimately the data will need to be fed into some type of analytics to truly uncover the devils in the data.

Tomorrow’s data driven world is already here, so it’s high time you got your business looking at the tools and techniques to gain real insight into the hidden information within your data.

If you’d like to learn more about my own company’s data analytics and predictive data modelling, and its applications within the data center industry, come and see my presentation at DataCenterDynamics San Francisco at the end of July. (A shameless plug given this blog was sponsored by my own LinkedIn page! :-)