Nothing inspires apprehension like an infomercial called “5 Interview Questions for Your Next Big Data Vendor” from something billing itself as the One-Stop Shop for Big Data, creating the Big Data ecosystem by connecting all stakeholders within the global Big Data market. Yikes!

If you’re pressed for time, you don’t have to read past the first sentence. Here it is:

It’s easy to have unrealistic expectations of big data companies.

Ya think? I wonder if it’s because the hypesters would have us believe Big Data will automatically generate business for us. All we have to do is set it and forget it. Or maybe, given our commitment to output over outcomes, it’s because we believe more data equals more value. Or perhaps it’s just because our faith in black boxes or the man behind the curtain leads us to the near-religious conviction that the scientists (Ahem!) who amass and analyze Big Data will find value for us. Beats me.

Nevertheless, in light of all those unrealistic expectations — and as a public service — The Chautauqua Center for Healthy Skepticism has prepared five alternate questions for your next Big Data Vendor, the very notion of which presumes (a) you already have a Big Data vendor and (b) you’re unimaginative, masochistic, and fiscally profligate enough to want another one:

  1. Can I start with Little Data and work my way up?
  2. If I collect and analyze five million terabytes of data and I still don’t make any sales, can I get my money back?
  3. If I collect and analyze five million terabytes of data, still don’t make any sales, and can’t get my money back, do you have any Big Data to analyze to tell me why I still don’t make any sales?
  4. Does your Big Data come with a written guarantee to make me innovative and disruptive?
  5. After Big Data, will you be selling the next Big Trend?

Like Big Cubes (Stór Teningur), the calamitous franchise launched by Ingólfr Arnarson in Reykjavík to sell ice to the Sturlungs, Big Data is on the fast track to overstated need and dubious value.

As they say in Iceland: “Kaupandi gæta sín.”

Image by geralt, courtesy of