Blog post

Fads, FUDs and Data Lakes

By Joerg Fritsch | August 08, 2014 | 0 Comments

In short, this blog entry is about using innovation. I am quite surprised by the amount of discussion going on around Data Lakes at the moment. Somehow these arguments are to be expected. C. Cookson wrote in the Financial Times in 1994 that landmark innovations are stories of “anger, arrogance and aggression spiced with duplicity and deceit and lubricated with hard drinking”. But, let’s start with a view definitions.

Andrew C. Oliver calls Gartner’s position towards Data Lakes a FUD. This is quite surprising to me since a FUD sheet is a traditional sales tool, often an excel sheet, containing all necessary arguments to spread Fear Uncertainty and Doubt about competitors. Now, Gartner does not sell any data stores so it would be pointless to engage into FUD sheets. Andrew also questions whether Gartner maybe on the wrong side of history. OK.

In my world FUDs are of no importance but Fads are. Fads (and this is no acronym) are pet rocks, shiny trends that come and go but without staying power. Nobody really knows what is going to happen and at times it is difficult to make a firm decision whether something (for example the Data Lake concept) is a Fad or not. We only know on what side of history we are when it is behind us.

I frequently get inquiries around Big Data and often clients do not want to innovate in Data but use innovation for the good of their firm. For example, firms that produce chemicals and paints may want to innovate in their formulas and factories’ work-floor safety but want to benefit from innovation in data rather than being part of the cutting edge of innovation in Data themselves. Why? –Because it exposes them to technology risk and risk of failure in areas where traditionally they did not expect it. Until Big Data kicked in, data warehousing was a pretty mature market and it was pretty clear what you could expect for your money.

Before I advise a client to buy into early stage paradigm shift innovations I look whether the conditions and friction for a paradigm shift innovation are present in the client’s enterprise. You remember, this anger and arrogance thing that I mentioned in the beginning of this blog post.

For example:

  • The firm needs to recruit a critical mass of people with “amazing Kung-Fu” (Gene, 2013) to break down barriers to change.
  • People need to be empowered to pursue and push through this paradigm
  • The paradigm change is supported by a “blind eye” ignoring the KPIs and numbers for a moment.

If a client asks me for continuous (incremental) improvements of her data platform, then for now Data Lakes won’t be the right thing for her! This is not about what side of history we are on, this is about giving actionable advice to clients in order to help them in carving out competitive advantage and moving forward in the context and situation that they are in.

I must admit though that I love Data Lakes and will be happy to take inquiries about their security.

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