Neither the I Nor the T is Magic

This blog post is sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

It’s that time when we reflect on the past year and try to predict the future, such as Paul Muller, Joel Rothman, and Pearl Zhu did with their recent blog posts.  Although I have previously written about why most predictions don’t come true, in this post, I throw my fortune-telling hat into the 2012 prediction ring.

The information technology (IT) trends of 2011 included consumerization and decentralization, application modernization and information optimization, cloud computing and cloud security (and, by extension, enterprise security).  However, perhaps the biggest IT trend of the year was that 2011 is going out with a Big Bang about Big Data in 2012 and beyond.

Since its inception, the IT industry has both benefited from and battled against the principle known as Clarke’s Third Law:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

This principle often fuels the Diderot Effect of New Technology, enchanting our organizations with the mad desire to stock up on new technologically magic things.  As such, many are predicting 2012 will be the Year of the Magic Elephant named Hadoop because, as Gartner Research predicts about big data, “the size, complexity of formats, and speed of delivery exceeds the capabilities of traditional data management technologies; it requires the use of new or exotic technologies simply to manage the volume alone.  Many new technologies are emerging, with the potential to be disruptive.  Analytics has become a major driving application.”  As a corollary, the potential business value of integrating big data into business analytics seems to be conjuring up an alternative version of Clarke’s Third Law:

“Any sufficiently advanced information is indistinguishable from magic.”

In other words, many big data proponents (especially IT vendors selling Hadoop-based solutions) extol its virtues as if its information is capable of providing clairvoyant business insight, as if big data was the Data Psychic of the Information Age.

Although both sufficiently advanced information and technology will have important business-enabling IT roles to play in 2012, never forget that neither the I nor the T is magic — no matter what the Data Psychics and Magic Elephants may say.

This blog post is sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.


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