Total Recall 2014

Help me understand this.

BIG DATA is the business buzzword for the accumulation of massive amounts of bits and bytes that are meant to transform enterprises through unprecedented access to intelligence.

Problem is that intelligence cuts two ways – one passive, the other active.

The passive side of intelligence is in fact BIG DATA – yes, passive – it’s all programmatic – think about it….

The active side is the human element. Without human intelligence, BIG DATA intelligence is nothing more than digital filler swirling around servers….

Bottom line, the promise of BIG DATA changing our lives is only as good as the people who act on it….

So help me understand this…

How long has it taken GM to figure out that its cars have been crashing and that people have been dying as a result? And then how long did it take GM to admit it had a problem and start to recall specific vehicles?

Where was the BIG DATA? Surely GM had access to social media like the rest of us, info from its own service centers, reports from police department crash reports…hospitals too, I imagine…and on and on…in short, data from all of the myriad and now readily connectable sources of relevant data that, when aggregated, becomes BIG DATA and when analyzed by intelligent people becomes usable business intelligence.

GM spokesperson Jim Cain, commenting on the latest recall of flawed and dangerous vehicles, said that GM “learned of the problem through warranty claims…he was not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the problem.”

So I am to believe that a company that no doubt uses all kinds of data to pinpoint potential buyers; that I bet talks about BIG DATA in its marketing meetings; that I am sure uses sophisticated intelligence of the passive and active kind – I am to believe it had no clue….

Help me here…

My point is not to bash GM – it has enough of that coming its way without my meager contribution. My point is to bang my drum about the human element inherent even in the most sophisticated data systems and intelligence constructs.

Which by the way is an extension of the human element that needs to be inherent in everything we do, no matter how digital, and probably is – we just ignore it way too often.

At the end of the day GM is paying the price for ignoring, then stonewalling and now moving too slowly.

For us the lesson is clear – Human intent to solve a problem; human intelligence is intrinsic to solving the problem; and human caring, passion and accountability brought to bear on the problem will change the world even if BIG DATA is not as big as it thinks….

“For every two degrees the temperature goes up, check-ins at ice cream shops go up by 2%.” – Andrew Hogue, Foursquare

What’s shameful is that information like this is readily available and used by many, and yet GM is clueless?


“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” ‑ Gertrude Stein

And there you have it…common sense drives it – intelligent activism if you will….

What do you think?

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