What can we learn about Big Data from fish?

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My family had guests in town recently. We took them to one of our favorite local tourist attractions, the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

As one who values worthwhile experiences, this Tech Innovator appreciates the thought-provoking quality of the exhibits of the National Aquarium. We saw many displays about survival, adaption and evolution. They got me thinking about business.

Entrepreneurs are subject to law of “survival of the fittest” just as surely as the animals and fish. Small businesses are like small fish. Some have developed poisonous skin, camouflage and various techniques to keep themselves safe from big fish. Large enterprises must adapt to their environment as well.

In business, the small fish are getting smarter, faster and more agile. This means the big fish will be extinct unless they change with the times.

Change is inevitable. Life on Earth is all about learning to adapt. Everything needs to eat.

That’s why I’m so passionate about helping entrepreneurs and executives use Data Analytics to learn more about their customers, markets, competitors, industry trends, etc. It can give companies a tremendous competitive advantage.

Let me explain by giving an example of a start-up.  An Internet company called SickWeather presented at our most recent Columbia Tech Breakfast. The founders built a social health network that sifts through status updates on social media, and posts “illness trends” to a map. Users can also add symptoms to the site or search in their area for illnesses, down to the street level. Using the tools and data mined by SickWeather users can notice trends in how disease spreads throughout the United States. And using advanced analytics would eventually help users anticipate outbreaks faster than ever before.

Another example of “survival of the fittest” is a tool that my company, motifworks, is developing to mine data available from social networks, forums, blogs and job boards to give a competitive landscape analysis. The tool allows business users to find the latest buzz in the industry, trend analysis, sentiment analysis as well as details about the influencers  in your industry or a subject matter on social networks, such as Twitter, or forum sites like Stack Overflow.

With these kinds of Data Analytics tools, you can find out who is talking about your product, or your competitor’s product. You can learn demographic information, identify strengths and weaknesses, create a “repeatable” and “real-time” market research tool, and other innovations.

Whether we are a big fish or small fish, we can use Data Analytics to find trends, buzz, blind spots, weaknesses and gaps, and adapt our products, marketing  and companies.  We can assure that we will be among the fittest.

Motifworks ( is a partner in emerging technology and innovation for business problem-solvers. Companies as large as Microsoft and Sears and as small as one-person start-ups rely on motifworks for lower cost, better delivery and more innovative thinking. For a partner in emerging technology and innovation, contact motifworks at

  • National Aquarium | Sep 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Not only are we glad to hear that you and your guests enjoyed your recent visit to our venue, but we have to say that we’ve learned a couple of things in this post! Thanks for giving pointers on how to be digitally fit!

  • Nitin @motifworks | Sep 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I am glad that you liked the post.