01/11/2012 02:00 pm ET | Updated Mar 12, 2012

Small Data on Big Data

If you're like me -- can't tell the difference between a zettabyte and an overbite -- this Big Data stuff may be more than you will want to bite off. That said, brace yourself -- Big Data's the new IT buzz phrase coming to the Beltway. And yes, expect to be beaten bloody about the ears with it this coming year. Expect the loudest noises from the business intelligence -- Oracle, IBM, SAS, SAP -- and storage vendors -- EMC, NetApp, HP, IBM, and Hitachi. But, on the upside, Big Data may give us some relief from the Cloud chorus.

So, what's Big Data and why should we care? Here it goes, it's about new insight from a lot of data -- think oceans, not tea cups. That data's often in different formats -- text, voice, video, social media, etc. Think fast, huge, complex information super collision and real-time analytics -- looking for new patterns. So what's the value? Well, consider medical research, fraud detection, terrorist tracking, cyber security, C4ISR. It's about identifying cause and effect, using historical data to predict the future, making better decisions quicker, and enhancing efficiency. Sound like something Uncle Sam could use?

So what's driving Big Data and why now? Well, first, the quantity of available data to collide is growing exponentially. There are sensors everywhere around us -- from software logs to mobile phones to CCTV to Facebook to drones. Each day some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created -- that's a lot of dentures. It blows my mind to think that 90 percent of global information was created since 2010. Giant strides in processing, storage, networking, and analytics -- advances that dwarf Moore's Law -- are unlocking these new predictive models.

So, here's your chance to get ahead of the crowd. Get brainy on Big Data. Two problems in government. First, there's no OMB mandate for agencies to do this "Giant Information" -- no GI bill if you will. And you might ask, aren't agencies already busy chasing their tails on Cloud, Data Center Consolidation, and Cyber? With their plates so full, how will agencies find money for this new IT fad? Second, because this is new, there's little information on who's doing Big Data in government -- hence Small Data on Big Data. If you know any government Big Data Big Brains, we'd like an introduction.