Big Data and Big Janet

Posted 2017 May 10


My mother, Janet Elizabeth McCann Conroy, was affectionately known in our family as Big Janet.
While she was the tallest of the McCann girls, Mom was called Big Janet simply to keep all 3 Janets straight. Mom was Big Janet, I was Little Janet, and my cousin Janet was just Janet.


Perhaps like your Mom, my Mom seemed to know everything. There wasn’t much that we were able to get past her. My Mom also had the best hearing of anyone I knew. She always knew who was coming home late by how we tiptoed up the stairs. Mom knew and kept track of the countless details of running a household and raising a family long before we had computers, cell phones or the internet.


Big Data ShopperBig Janet was the Big Data of our family. Big Data, as we now know it, is the capturing of digital information and converting that into data.


This cartoon shopper is a perfect example. The grocery store analyzes all of the data collected when they scan in his purchases so they know when to order fresh raisin bread. He likes this store because it always has his fresh raisin bread when he shops on Thursday mornings. He’s a happy and loyal customer which is just exactly what the grocer wants and needs.


If our shopper used his debit card, GPS enabled smart phone or sent a text message while shopping, bingo- more data is gathered, analyzed, bundled and eventually used/sold for marketing.


Big Data goes well beyond personal data. It’s also gathering data to vastly improve and expand medical research. Everything from industrial machinery to our cars and lawn mowers are now equipped with sensors that gather and transmit data that will fine tune their operation as needed, on the fly.


I’m fascinated by Big Data, the technology, the servers and the analytics – think IBM’s Watson.


Big Data is great but will always be missing one thing that Big Janet had – a huge heart. She loved deeply and lived happily. All the data in the world won’t give you a hug. So this Mother’s Day – hug your Mom – the original Big Data in your life.