The true value of a technology isn’t how rich it makes a vendor, but rather how productive and happy it makes a user. Of course it’s cool for 10gen to be selected from a pool of 5,900 U.S. startups and ranked as the top U.S. software startup, if for no other reason than to earn me bragging rights with my mom.
But while that may be interesting for 10gen employees and investors (and my mom), it’s nowhere near as cool as having the City of Chicago, for example, build an exceptionally innovative crime prevention tool using MongoDB, as The Wall Street Journal recently reported. The City of Chicago simply could not create its analytics platform with a relational database. Not easily, anyway. The City needed the ability to marry structured and unstructured data, allowing City employees to combine disparate sources and types of data in order to glean insights.
What does this mean? As but one example:
[C]ity officials might look at a high crime area, while also mapping out the number of liquor permits for a neighborhood, along with the amount of nearby abandoned buildings. Using transcripts from resident complaints or 911 calls [or data from any number of 30 different City agencies or departments], officials could also see trending concerns for the area, like broken lights or stolen garbage cans, and the times the incidents are occurring. If the high crime area also has a high number of liquor permits, for example, officials could then see if other neighborhoods also faced both issues, allowing them to create a more effective response for those areas.
I read that and feel positively giddy that modern technology makes this sort of thing possible. It’s even more exciting when you consider that the City of Chicago didn’t have to engage in protracted negotiations to use the technology. The City simply downloaded MongoDB and got started.
This is great for 10gen. My mom has never been prouder of me. But it’s so much more important for the City of Chicago and other users looking to leverage NoSQL technology like MongoDB to solve Big Data and other problems.
As Cowen & Co. analyst Peter Goldmacher recently wrote,
We believe the biggest winners in the Big Data world aren't the Big Data technology vendors, but rather the companies that will leverage Big Data technology to create entirely new businesses or disrupt legacy businesses.
Cloudera CEO (and my good friend) Mike Olson followed up on this report by concluding, “You want to get rich on Big Data? Use it!”
He’s absolutely right. The real riches in open source, Big Data, mobile, etc. will not go to the vendors who develop, sell, and support these technologies. Sure, some will do well from these activities, but that’s not really the point. No, the real riches go to those who embrace and implement these technologies, whether Hadoop, Linux, MongoDB, or Storm.
Which is, when you think about it, exactly as it should be.
[Posted by Matt Asay, vice president of Corporate Strategy]