Marketing always gets the good stuff.  Despite that, I would like to officially request that the rest of us get to use the term “Big Content”.  I am not claiming originality here but I started using the term Big Content a few years ago as an analogy to Big Data and a way to describe the challenge of coping with the flood of digital content in the workplace.  But then I found out that the content marketers were also using “Big Content” when I ran across this old post from MOZ Why Big Content Is Worth the Risk. But that was about content marketing. So I started to rethink the use of the term and then realized it is worth keeping.  Here is why.

The story starts with “Big Data.”  Everyone loves Big Data. It’s everywhere and means many things to many people.  This definition came from the SAS site.

“Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.”

Big Data is like a big green field of opportunity. Rightfully so. Technology advances and innovative minds have already combined to create many great Big Data success stories and I am sure there are many more to come.  But how many people, outside of data scientists, wake up in the morning with a Big Data problem?

However, tens of millions of people wake up in the morning with a Big Content problem.  Not the marketing kind.  The digital worker kind. How to keep up with the flood of content from outside and inside of their teams.  It’s not just the volume of information, it is also the number of places that supply it. In the digital workplace, information is created and consumed everywhere and on every device. Literally Big Content.

What is interesting is that with Big Data the perspective is that it offers such an enormous opportunity.  The definition above encapsulates that thinking – “[i]t’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves” 

Yet, when we talk about the analogous situation in the context of content its often called “information overload” and a problem rather than an opportunity. Overload is viewed as a byproduct of the modern working environment that we all just need to cope with by using search and tools designed for a different set of problems.  I would argue that people are desensitized to the notion of information overload. That is odd and belies the fact that millions of people, waste hundreds of millions of hours worth billions of dollars to struggling with this problem.  And that is just the cost side of the equation.  What if you look at the opportunity side of the equation and the impact on innovation, decision making, risk mitigation and overall competitiveness?   What if we looked at Big Content the same way the world is looking at Big Data? As an opportunity.  Repurposing the SAS definition it might look like this:

“Big Content is a term that describes the large volume of Content that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of content that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the content that matters. Big Content can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.”

Good right?

Interestingly the Big Content opportunity is being solved with approaches similar to its Big Data cousin.  Get as much of it as you can in one place, analyze it and then serve up the results to answer specific questions.  Maybe reframing these issues from “overload” to “opportunity” in the context of Big Content will kickstart innovative thinking.  Big Content tools will change work and workers lives in very positive ways by combining the best of what software can do with the best of what people can do.

What do you think?

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