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Small data in the age of Big Data

Close-up of a mouse standing on an elephant's trunk, isolated on whiteJust a quick thought on the subject of small data.

Don’t hear much about that in the press these days- everything is BIG BIG BIG.

But small- (and remember, small is still hundreds of thousands or millions of rows) is still critically important. I hope I’m stating the obvious here- but with some of the “irrational exuberance” around Big data, we need to keep our perspective.

Your entire customer list that (hopefully) you’ve worked hard to keep clean and accurate is probably small data- unless you’re Facebook and it has around a Billion rows.

Your entire product list is likely smallish data.

Certainly the categories that you want to look at, the geographical groupings and regions, your chart of accounts, pretty much all of your master data is small data.

What is clear is it is not just BIG data that matters- its how we mix our small data to our big data, and how we turn our big data into the small (aggregated, summarized, cleansed, ready for consumption by other than a data scientist) data sets we use day to day.

While the abilities of Big data are fantastic, and the capabilities of todays systems are truely awesome, they do not eliminate the need for good old data quality and master data management.

What they do though is open up whole new architectures and capabilities. So embrace big Data- take advantage of the amazing platforms that are available- but don’t get so excited about the big to let your small data program slip. After all, small is still beautiful too.

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