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Yesterday, we looked at what some industry professionals think are the big trends in big data for the upcoming year. I had the chance to talk to Dr. Michael Wu, Chief Scientist at Lithium Technologies, about what he is looking at for his research in 2013.

For him, it's about smart data instead of the generics often spoken about around "big data."

"Although the adoption of Big Data technology and strategy is still slow, it definitely grabbed the attention of executives in many enterprises. However, what businesses really need is insight that helps them make better decisions. If that is the case, I believe one emerging trend of 2013 is going to be 'smart data.'

Smart data will revolutionise the way we do marketing, make business decisions, and interact with customers. But what is smart data? If big data is the technological foundation for data driven business decision making, smart data is the analytics we use to extract relevant information and insight from big data, and the visualization we use to present the results.

Smart data technology must be designed so that we can make our data both useful and digestible. Big data is often captured without a specific purpose in mind, so most of it will be irrelevant to the problem you want to solve. Efficient search and filtering technology is necessary in smart data to make identifying the relevant data easy, because data that is not relevant can’t possibly be useful. More importantly, the analytics we use must find insight that is actionable - if you can’t take action against it, it’s not useful.

Big data is not only big in volume; it’s also very diverse and complex. Advanced visualization designed specifically for particular data structures is necessary to make big data intuitive to non-analysts. Interactive tools for data exploration are very important in smart data because they will help more people understand the data better.

Capturing big data only gets us part way there. Smart data bridges the gap by facilitating information extraction and insight discovery. Although big data technology won’t help you make bigger decisions, smart data can certainly help you make smarter decisions."

Heather Taylor

Published 16 January, 2013 by Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor is the Editorial Director for Econsultancy US. You can follow her on Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

236 more posts from this author

Comments (3)


Steve Ardire

> For him, it's about smart data instead of the generics often spoken about around "big data."

Good but Michael Wu did not coin the term 'smart data' i.e. there's some of us more clued in people that know and speak abou this ;)


almost 4 years ago

Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor, Editorial Director at Econsultancy

Very true Steve - that's why I said often instead of always ;)

almost 4 years ago


Guy Cuthbert, Atheon Analytics

An interesting article, many of the assertions within I agree with.

Visualising data (as hinted at in the article) can indeed help to make sense of large, complex data – and visualisation is available today in low-cost products.

However, knowing how best to visualise data, in a way which doesn't mislead and aids effective fact-based decision-making, is a fairly rare skill at present. This is a skillset which individuals and companies need to develop and this requires an investment in both education and practical experience, lead by a specialist who has experience of this kind of data analysis and can guide accordingly.

Guy Cuthbert,
Managing Director,
Atheon Analytics

almost 4 years ago

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