M&Ms, Big Data, and Healthcare

I love trail mix. Whoever came with that delicious combination of M&Ms, peanuts, raisins, and almonds was just plain brilliant.

But wait a minute. . . . I must qualify my statement above. I think trail mix is awesome as long as it contains M&Ms.  Without M&Ms, it is, well . . . lame. And from what happens to bowls of trail mix here at KLAS, I can tell I’m not the only one who thinks this way. When trail mix is passed around at company meetings, inevitably what goes first is the M&Ms, and what is left is a half-full bowl of plain old peanuts and raisins.  At this point, people tend to notice more what is missing than what remains.

That's kind of like big data.

There are three generally acknowledged "Vs" of big data: volume, velocity, and variety. But the V that is missing from the list is even more important:

VICTORY.

That's what I would propose to be the fourth—and missing—V of big data. In healthcare, and I would guess other industries as well, we need victories with BI more than we need that next additional data source (i.e., variety). We need victories with BI more than we need that next additional collection of CCDs (i.e., volume). And we need victories more than we need lightning-fast data feeds (i.e., velocity).

That isn’t to say that the other three Vs aren't important. They are. And the promise of big data in healthcare is tremendous—new discoveries, personalized medicine, better healthcare for entire populations, the list goes on.

But like trail mix without M&Ms, the three Vs of big data lose their appeal without victories, the most important part (and unspoken goal?) of big data.

For a real and current healthcare industry perspective on big data, check out the 2014 KLAS perception report on healthcare analytics. Or if you are at a healthcare provider site where you've found the missing V (i.e., had some victories with big data), reach out to us and share your story!

Please direct any comments and questions to joev@klasresearch.com.

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