Is Big Data ‘bull****’?

The man who headed up the tech side of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign took issue with higher ed’s emphasis on Big Data

IT officials have been skeptical of Big Data investment.

Harper Reed, who recently launched a mobile technology startup in Chicago after serving as chief technology officer for Obama’s 2012 campaign, said Oct. 29 at the State University of New York’s (SUNY) “Building a Smarter University” conference that universities’ focus on collecting and analyzing reams of data is “bulls***.”

Reed, according to a media report, denounced the term “Big Data” as a marketing tool meant to drive college and university IT officials toward expensive servers, and other technologies meant to store and analyze data.

It’s hardly the first time Harper has offered a harsh assessment of the current use and interest in Big Data.

At the CeBIT conference in Sydney, Australia last May, he said many schools and organizations didn’t have enough data to invest in Big Data tools.

“You probably have medium data,” Harper told the CeBIT conference attendees.

Respondents to the 2013 Campus Computing Project survey showed that higher education IT leaders are skeptical of big investments in collecting, managing, and analyzing data to improve student retention and guide students more efficiently toward a degree.

(Next page: Concern over sky-high expectations)

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