Phil Simon


How Platforms Lead to Big Data

The most successful companies today realize that data is critical to their success.
Nov | 18 | 2014

Nov | 18 | 2014

In my previous post, I introduced the modern-day platform. Today, I’ll look at the data that these powerful platforms generate.

After the publication of The Age of the Platform, I started thinking about Big Data. After all, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other companies generate a startling amount of information. A little over a year later, I had written Too Big to Ignore: The Business Case for Big Data.

Not Your Father’s Data: How Platforms Lead to Big Data

Expect data ownership to become an increasingly important issue in the next few years

When most people think of data, their minds gravitate towards the structured information found in Excel and database tables. I’m talking about lists of sales, employees, products, and the like. They don’t think of semi-structured data (read: e-mails) and unstructured data (read: YouTube videos, blog posts, call detail records, photos, etc.) All of this is data. What’s more, the vast majority of it these days is unstructured–and it’s increasing every day.

Platform-centric companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others realize that data is critical to their collective success. As some have said, data is the new oil. Of course, data has never been an unalloyed good.

The Big Pros and Cons of Big Data

I often reflect upon Kranzberg’s Six Laws of Technology. Perhaps my favorite of the six is “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.” That maxim has held the test of time, and it’s certainly true today with respect to “Big Data. Here are three big pros and cons (pun intended):


  • Increased knowledge about customers. Netflix knows who watches what and where it’s watched. It knows you better than you might know yourself. Its data-management practices are second to none.
  • Increased ability to predict. With accurate data, companies can make better guesses about what customers want. There’s a reason that Amazon is working on anticipatory selling.
  • Increased revenue and profits. Given the data that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google possess, is it any wonder that they make so much money?


  • Security. In the event of a hack (read: Target) or sanctioned snooping (read: the NSA), sensitive pieces of information can become public without our knowledge or consent.
  • Privacy. Even if information isn’t leaked, some people are uncomfortable with the data that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and others store. Do they know too much? Expect data ownership to become an increasingly important issue in the next few years.
  • Overload. As more and more entrepreneurs, investors. and customers talk about Big Data, it gets harder and harder to understand what the phrase actually means.

Simon Says: The Era of Big Data Is Here

The question is not whether Big Data exists. The only question is whether your organization is doing anything with it.


What say you?

In my final post in the series, I’ll discuss some Big-Data considerations for building a platform.

Receive my musings, news, and rants in your inbox as soon as they publish.


Blog E Data E Big Data E How Platforms Lead to Big Data

Related Posts

Following the AI Money

Introduction Generative AI tools like ChatGPT have been all the rage lately. Microsoft’s bet on OpenAI has paid off in spades. Hell, even Bing—yes, Bing—is suddenly sexy. Microsoft’s rapid ascension is forcing its competitors to scramble. Case in point: Google dropped...

Book Review: Wonder Boy

In 2011, I moved from NJ to Vegas. It didn't take long for me to hook up with the Vegas tech scene and the Downtown Project. Over the course of my five years in Sin City, I attended events, spoke at Zappos's HQ a few times, met plenty of smart cookies, and learned a...

Looking for Case Studies for My Next Book

A few days ago, I announced the upcoming publication of The Nine: The Tectonic Forces Reshaping the Workplace. The writing and research are going smoothly, and it's time for my regular post to solicit case studies. Make no mistake: Case studies matter and all of my...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *