Which One is Unlike the Other: Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, or Goats?

So why not have my first startup/VC post be about the startup I work at. We’re conveniently getting some press today on AllThingsD about a new partnership we have that really adds some validity to our new technology at Narrative Science.

At its core, big data is simply the collection and recording of as many data points as possible. From tracking customer movements throughout a store and even their eye movements , to simply putting databasing tools behind web interactions with consumers. This sounds eerily like George Orwell’s “1984” book, am I right? There are usually two camps who have opposite opinions on all of this tracking/data collection. One camp has people that are creeped out and don’t want their privacy invaded. Which is fair and understandable. But the other camp doesn’t care as much, which is made up of both companies and consumers. Companies, for example, are trying to position this data collection as a feature that will make their product much more of an intimate, unique user experience (such as Google Maps, Yelp, etc.). But I digress.

Let me be the first to tell you though, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about all of this big data. The biggest misconception is that now having access to all of this data will automatically add 10% to corporations’ bottom lines. False. The second is that the data will uncover problems and provide solutions all on its own. This is somewhat false, and this is where Artificial Intelligence comes in to make it true. Currently, there are a lot of great startups out there that provide amazing tools so you can more easily dig through gigabytes worth of data. One of the themes of these startups is having a dashboard platform that only presents to you what you deem as important information. But dashboards are only halfway to the analysis and insight an end user truly needs.

This is where Narrative Science comes in. The value isn’t entirely in the data, the value really comes from the familiarity with the data. Duh :). What good is all of this data to you if you have no one to interpret it? If you have someone with intimate knowledge of your data, and how to efficiently dig through your data (small or big), then big data can add considerable value. That’s why data scientists get paid so much. I’m not saying we’re replacing data scientists, but a little artificial intelligence can go a long way. If you already know what you want out of your big data, human insight at machine scale could very well be the new norm of the future.

So remember, big data is a good thing. You’ll fail to see the true value in it if you’re just good at collecting it, but not at interpreting it.

P.S. – We’re looking to hire people with a financial background. Do your research and if you’re interested in Narrative Science, give me a holler. A few things to look forwrad to: big data, artificial intelligence, and the blood/sweat involved in pioneering a vision. Oh, and building a company along the way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s