One could not love both; one had to pick sides, coordinate the right bandana colors and wave the right gang signs or one’s street cred as a hip hop enthusiast was shot.
20 years later the debate seems trivial, dying in the glowing embers of a purist’s memory.
Both men are dead. (If you don’t buy that 2Pac is on a beach in Cuba smoking a cigar!)
To claim West coast or East coast victory at this point seems outdated, especially when the champion of that rap battle is Big Data. For example, if ‘rap greatest’ was defined by having the largest unique vocabulary, Wu Tang would have a bigger vocabulary at 5,895 words than Shakespeare(who has a bigger vocab than Biggie and 2Pac) at 5,170 words. But Big Data has a bigger vocabulary than Wu-Tang at infinity.
Because the internet has erased geographic borders and time zones, Big Data’s ubiquity and mobility dwarfs the loudest hip hop historians.
Big Data is a statistical study and technology aggregation of massive quantities of information on anything. It is not corporate analysis of structured, transactional items found in ERP, CRM and SCM tools. It is the joint analysis of structured and unstructured data within a company, with external data sources integrated as well. It could include comments on Facebook, mp3s of rap music, thousands of emails, collaboration activity on SharePoint, web page content, server logs, stock market tickers, GPS imagery, car telemetry, etc. It is so hot-messy, voluminous and fast that conventional database systems and architectures cannot process or tame it. Valuable patterns of user insight and hidden sentiment lay within it, but the feasibility to extract it can be costly. Today’s commodity cloud architectures, open source software (like Hadoop) and API plug-ins make it possible to prep Big Data for analytics, improving operations, reducing defects or developing new products.
All companies have to do is rent server-time in the cloud to swim in the Big Data flood and learn. Netflix and Amazon have applied Big Data in elegant ways with their recommendation engines based on prior purchase habits. Facebook combs posts and combines user signals to friend’s responses to supply highly personalized customer journeys and advertising models for businesses.
However, that dataset consistency often deteriorates between physical and digital brand channels. How many times have you seen something cool on a mobile site, then walked into the store and the staff does not have the foggiest about what you’re talking? It is because their organizations and systems are not designed that way. Ecommerce platforms tracks cookies and pixels. And reps at retail establishments or bouncers at a club are not going to check your iPhone browser history. Due to a historical focus on platforms, rather than functions, businesses will build an in-store point of sale system, then a website and then a mobile app, all with different architectures. Making Big Data a conundrum: the more we know about it, the less we know about it.
Thus, in order to beat Big Data, companies must embrace data analytics as a core competency or be in survival mode. When Biggie and 2Pac grabbed the mike 1) message 2) flow 3) delivery 4) technique 5) beats/production was all you needed to be considered a good MC. Today, I would argue that smart MCs need to be data literate also, not only English-literate. Mckinsey & Co forecasted a shortage of at least 1.5M people with data skills by 2015. In the coming decade, statistics and probabilities will be the new in-demand languages to dismantle the volume, velocity, veracity and variety of Big Data. Only those who reprogram and reskill themselves for an analytic future should be crowned title of “greatest of all time.”