My friend Darren Herman recently tweeted a statement I couldn't agree more with (I'm linking to his blog post rather than the tweet itself; as we all know, attempting to take advantage of Twitter's disastrous data model is like trying to catch water in a sieve):
”The data itself isn’t overly interesting. The application of data is what is fascinating.”
Data is just a bunch of numbers -- the raw material. It has to be refined in order to extract value and prepare it for consumption. I've written along those lines here.
However, I will confess that I'm a little worried about how the "big data" buzzword is increasingly tossed out by the media when describing predictive analytics, as during the spate of data company fundraising and acquisition announcements over the last week. As I've noted, the two are not the same, though they are of course related.