Big data – the super hero consulting opportunity

Big data offers a world of opportunity for consultants. Despite the boring moniker, big data can help turn you into a superhero – imagine preventing diseases, deterring terrorism and fighting crime. Well, with big data, you can do that. Big data refers to data sets so huge that they defy management by tools like databases. It’s hard to capture, store, search, analyze, visualize, share and interpret big data. Figure out how to help people do any of those tasks and you’re in business.

O’Reilly Strata – the conference on big data – opened yesterday, after selling out more than 1200 tickets. “What it means is we’ve hit onto something,” notes Tim O’Reilly, founder of the company. “A big inflection point in our industry.”

Big data – the next big thing for consultants

For consultants, big data seems to offer a world of opportunities. While companies ranging from Twitter to Nexalogy and from Fedex to Saaspire work at building tools and aggregating data, someone’s got to figure out what it all means.  Roger Magoulas of O’Reilly’s research team notes, for example, that services such as bit.ly can capture interest in, say, Egypt – but there’s a still a big opportunity. “It doesn’t tell you how to run Egypt, it tells you what’s going on in Egypt.”

Alistair Croll predicts opportunity for consultants

So someone still needs to make a decision about what to do with the data. For consultants, that means taking on new roles with clients and exploring new opportunities. Bitcurrent’s Alistair Croll - co-chair of the Strata conference – predicts there are “10 years of money to be made helping people get to that mindset of being data driven”, although “consultants are used to being the ones that provide answers.”

If Croll’s predictions are on target, consultants will need to change their skillsets. Being a primadonna won’t work. You’ll still need to be an expert, but that expertise will need to go beyond technical expertise. You’ll want to get good at facilitating, mentoring, synthesizing and coaching,

That’s good news, though. If you’re providing a solution-oriented approach and delivering value, you’re going to be able to command higher consulting fees and move to rates that reflect the value you provide.

But only if you can do it without 3D charts.