Seeing data while getting my hair cut - time to be committed?

I think I've finally come to a point where I believe either I'm completely nuts and should be committed (get it? COMMIT;'ed!).

Yesterday afternoon I stopped into a barber shop which caters to men who want to get their hair cut and watch sports while doing it. I have to admit I'm not a sports nut but there is something to be said about watching TV while getting your mop trimmed - even though I can't see anything as I can't see much without my glasses on. Playing on the TV was the "Masters" golf tournament which was kind of neat to watch. During a commercial break I noticed two things which I found fantastic and unbelievable...

1) IBM had a "Data" commercial (much like the one below) playing
2) I caught the hair dresser (your typical ~25 year old woman who cuts hair) watching the commercial

It hit me, right then and there I realized that data isn't for data geeks anymore. Data is so mainstream now that even your Wii teaches you about data management.

Google search trends on Data Management and Data don't really show what's happening, but it is in fact happening, data is mainstream to everyone. From kids playing with digital cameras and their Wii games to hair dressers. From the cover of "The Economist" to the President of the United States using Twitter.

With data now "mainstream" or "on Main Street" I think the tide has turned and the challenge is now for us few data management folks to catch up with the crowds. We need to understand that our audiences in meetings, clients and management are starting to "get" data and they are going to want us to perform and do fantastic things which IBM is touting in their commercials.

TV shows like "Numb3rs", "Criminal Minds" and "NCIS" all have the data geeks who peck away at keyboards and do fantastic things which nobody else on the show understand. But shows like "NCIS: Los Angeles" show more "typical" leading roles using very cool technologies to solve problems, again data going mainstream in action here.

The landscape is changing and changing rapidly and us "data geeks" out there need to make sure we're not the "obscure person pecking away at a keyboard". We need to ensure we're in front of non-geeks leading the charge to use data in a productive manner.

What is it that your doing to lead the charge? What changes do you and I need to make to "keep up"? Would love to hear feedback.

Until next time...Rich


Phil Simon said…
Great video and I completely agree with the tenor and content of the post.

We're getting ready to go beyond "geekdom" with data.
UpLoad_U said…
Hey Rich- I like this article that you have posted. As an educator, and mother, data is more than important, and plays a major role in educating today's students. Data drives instruction enables teachers to pinpoint where students need the most help. Unfortunately for some teachers data may become the final say in keeping a job! I don't think looking at data - especially in education, is a step into the Geekdom category, just a tool to drive/pinpoint some instruction. Making data accessible in a variety of formats makes data useful and more interesting. Since we all perceive things differently, data that is differentiated and adaptable to the viewer's needs is a step in the right direction. You need to think about the levels of people utilizing the data and how to make it easier to understand- just like the 25 year old hair stylist-learning styles, and preferences play right into this!!!!

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