Friday, June 01, 2012

Big Data strikes again

"Could managers improve their ability to manage if they knew who is talking with whom, and how often, and where these conversations are taking place and what the tone of these interactions are?"

This is the topic of a new MIT Sloan Executive Ed course that was described in MIT Sloan Management Review.  The fancy term for this is sociometry.  MIT professor Alex Pentland talks about putting badges on employees that monitor these these attributes of their communication and using stochastic modeling to make recommendations.  Apparently, they did a project at a Bank of America call center with positive results.

The power of the Big Data movement is both humbling and scary. On one hand, it doesn't seem like there is any limit to what can be discovered if we develop good sensors and then plug the data into the right model. 

But I see two downsides.  First, could this become such a crutch that we forget how to discover things on our own?  Why bother learning how to read body language if the Siri in our ear can tell us what we need to know?  Second, will we lose the ability to see the beauty of nature if it is all too easily explained?

What do you think?