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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.

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

Go Deeper


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