Too Big to Ignore

The Business Case for Big Data

Publication date: March 18, 2013

Residents in Boston, Massachusetts are automatically reporting potholes and road hazards via their smartphones. Progressive Insurance tracks real-time customer driving patterns and uses that information to offer rates truly commensurate with individual safety. Google accurately predicts local flu outbreaks based upon thousands of user search queries. Amazon provides remarkably insightful, relevant, and timely product recommendations to its hundreds of millions of customers. Quantcast lets companies target precise audiences and key demographics throughout the Web. NASA runs contests via gamification site TopCoder, awarding prizes to those with the most innovative and cost-effective solutions to its problems. Explorys offers penetrating and previously unknown insights into healthcare behavior.

How do these organizations and municipalities do it? Technology is certainly a big part, but in each case the answer lies deeper than that. Individuals at these organizations have realized that they don’t have to be Nate Silver to reap massive benefits from today’s new and emerging types of data. And each of these organizations has embraced Big Data, allowing them to make astute and otherwise impossible observations, actions, and predictions.

It’s time to start thinking big.

In Too Big to Ignore, recognized technology expert and award-winning author Phil Simon explores an unassailably important trend: Big Data, the massive amounts, new types, and multifaceted sources of information streaming at us faster than ever. Never before have we seen data with the volume, velocity, and variety of today. Big Data is no temporary blip of fad. In fact, it is only going to intensify in the coming years, and its ramifications for the future of business are impossible to overstate.

Too Big to Ignore explains why Big Data is a big deal. Simon provides commonsense, jargon-free advice for people and organizations looking to understand and leverage Big Data. Rife with case studies, examples, analysis, and quotes from real-world Big Data practitioners, the book is required reading for chief executives, company owners, industry leaders, and business professionals.

Interesting Tidbits about the Book

In The Age of the Platform, I wrote extensively about Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (aka, the Gang of Four.) Each company does many things very well, including generating, managing, and interpreting vast amounts of information.

They call this Big Data–and it’s a really big deal. The data implications of platforms lingered with me as I approached publishers with the idea for Too Big to Ignore.

After doing two books with Motion Publishing, I returned to a large publisher for several reasons. First, Wiley agreed to fast-track the book, ensuring that it would hit the shelves in early 2013. That was a deal breaker for me. Also, SAS agreed to put the book in its business series. This helped on a number of fronts (distribution, sales).

What’s the book about in three minutes? Watch below to find out.


Read a sample of the book here.
“As more and more entrepreneurs, investors, and customers talk about Big Data, it gets harder and harder to understand what the phrase actually means. Phil Simon does a great job defining it and making a clear business case for the ideas that are typically incorporated into the phrase Big Data. Ignore this book at your own peril.”
–Brad Feld, Foundry Group, Managing Director & author, Startup Communities


“In the tradition of Malcolm Gladwell and Chris Anderson, Simon takes a complex topic and makes you think about it differently through real-world storytelling that resonates.”
–Jay Baer, author of Youtility: Why Smart Companies are Helping not Selling


“Too Big to Ignore clearly demonstrates the increasing role and value of Big Data. His illustrative case studies and engaging style will dispel any doubts executives may have about how Big Data is driving success in today’s economy.”
–Adrian C. Ott, award-winning author, The 24-Hour Customer

“From Twitter feeds to photo streams to RFID pings, the Big Data universe is rapidly expanding, providing unprecedented opportunities to understand the present and peer into the future. Tapping its potential while avoiding its pitfalls doesn’t take magic; it takes a map. In Too Big to Ignore, Phil Simon offers businesses a comprehensive, clear-eyed, and enjoyable guide to the next data frontier.”
–Chris Berdik, author of Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations


“Phil Simon gets that business executives are no longer content with roll-up reports and summarized spreadsheets. They want detailed, consumable information in order to make fact-based decisions about their companies and customers. Too Big to Ignore provides a comprehensive overview of the Big Data trend, detailing the new components of Big Data.”
–Jill Dyché, Vice President of SAS Best Practices, author of The CRM Handbook


“In Too Big to Ignore, Phil Simon takes the mystique out of Big Data. He weaves the human, technical, and organizational requirements for success into an accessible book for all of us.”
–Terri Griffith, professor and author of The Plugged-In Manager


“Simon’s book provides a very valuable primer to the increasingly important world of Big Data–what it is, what it isn’t, and how it is being used and potentially abused. Anyone wishing to get up to speed quickly on the big ideas and big players behind Big Data will benefit greatly from reading this practical, down-to-earth book.”
–Robert Charette, President, ITABHI Corp


“Business leaders are drowning in data, and the deluge has only just begun. In Too Big to Ignore, Simon delves into the world of Big Data, and makes the business case for capturing, structuring, analyzing and visualizing the immense amount of information accessible to businesses. This book gives your organization the edge it needs to turn data into intelligence, and intelligence into action.”
–Paul Roetzer, CEO, PR 20/20 and author, The Marketing Agency Blueprint


“Simon has an uncanny ability to connect business cases with complex technical principles, and most important, clearly explain how everything coalesces. Too Big to Ignore demystifies Big Data, and Simon helps the rest of us understand how this evolving, pervasive subject affects businesses today, and how we can use it to our advantage or completely miss the boat.”
–Dalton Cervo, co-author of Master Data Management in Practice


“Today Big Data affects everybody and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In Too Big to Ignore, Phil Simon makes the topic accessible and relatable. This important book shows people how to put Big Data to work for their organizations.”
–William McKnight, President, McKnight Consulting Group

homerHere is a list of minor issues found in the first printing of the book.
page #isshould be
8Absent data, the folks in marketing, sales, product, and financeAbsent data, the folks in marketing, sales, R&D, and finance
xxAs a November 2012 Sports Illustrated article points out, the MBA gradAs a November 2012 Sports Illustrated article points out, the MIT MBA
143Most Internet-related data originated from desktops and laptops before iPhone and Droids arrivedMost Internet-related data originated from desktops and laptops (read: before iPhones and Droids arrived)
169Eager to meet the burgeoning demand for data scientist, organizations are starting to offer formal programs.Eager to meet the burgeoning demand for data scientists, organizations are starting to offer formal programs.
190see Big Data: The Venture Capitalist's Perspectivesee Big Data: A Venture Capitalist's Perspective
193The creative destruction of Austrian American economist and political scientist Joseph's contribution is alive and well more than sixty years after his death.The creative destruction of Austrian American economist and political scientist Joseph Schumpeter is alive and well more than sixty years after his death.
202throughtthrough
206there are only so of usthere are only so many of us
xxiiiVince Gillian, Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Anna Gunn, Betsy BrandyVince Gilligan, Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Anna Gunn, Betsy Brandt
184Footnote is marked as 1Should be marked as *
173Given the Data Deluge, the number and variety of these groups will only get increase.Given the Data Deluge, the number and variety of these groups will only increase.
23Dan ArielDan Ariely
43can be reduced a few bullet pointscan be reduced to a few bullet points
26come quickly and easily Today, there'scome quickly and easily. Today, there's
50Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, FacebookApple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo!,
60we see some events hindsight is thewe see some events in hindsight is the