The first time I heard the term Big Content, I thought “Oh brother, Are Web CMS and ECM vendors actually sticking the word 'Big' in front of 'Content' in an attempt to jump onto the Big Data bandwagon?” 

At the time, the people who used the term "Big Content" either talked about it in terms of content that went beyond their control (i.e. viral) and said that this was a highly desirable thing


they argued that "content" was growing at a rapid clip, and that Big Data technologies, such as Hadoop, were incapable of dealing with voluminous unstructured data -- that you needed something called "Big Content" to do that.

The latter might have made for an interesting argument, save one problem; Big Data technologies, and Hadoop in particular, can handle unstructured data just fine. Consider Hortonworks’ definition of Apache Hadoop,

Hadoop is an open source project from Apache that has evolved rapidly into a major technology movement. It has emerged as the best way to handle massive amounts of data, including not only structured data but also complex, unstructured data as well.”

One topic that wasn’t being discussed at the time was an Enterprise’s ability to manage all the different varieties of content that was aimed at different audiences across the ever-growing variety of mobile and social media channels (including apps), but, even so, it didn’t seem that a new category of technology was needed to work with that.

So, I decided that Big Content was either about gaming SEOs (and it’s obvious that by simply mentioning the Kardashians you can do that) or that it was a strategy ECM and CMS vendors were experimenting with to make themselves look sexier to customers.

Now, mind you, I wasn’t sure that my conclusions were correct, but since almost no one was talking about "Big Content" -- consider that the LinkedIn "Big Content" group has less than 100 members -- I decided to backburner it for a while.

The "while" didn’t last very long because last October Gartner started talking about "Big Content."

Here’s part of what Craig Roth, vice president and service director for Gartner Research, in Burton Group's Collaboration and Content Strategies service, had to say in a blog post:

Big Data has much to offer to folks who are turned off by the word "data" and may pay more attention to its potential value if a subset of its techniques are thought of as Big Content. Just as Big Data uses Apache Hadoop (with MapReduce) to go beyond traditional BI, Big Content combines technologies to go beyond traditional search. These technologies are applied to text analytics, sentiment analysis, video analysis, semantic web technologies, and attention management.

For industries that care more about what people are saying rather than what meters are measuring, Big Content will become a big deal.”

Interesting, I thought. And since this was Gartner talking, it seemed to be safe to assume that people were listening. But his blog post didn’t seem to excite many readers; the subject never got sticky.

Rethinking Big Content

Earlier this month, Gartner began talking "Big Content" again. This time the pitch seems to be about augmenting Enterprise Content with public information.

Here’s what Darin Stewart, research director for Gartner in the Collaboration and Content Strategies service, wrote in a blog post:

Enterprise owned and operated information is only part of the Big Content equation. The potential for insight and intelligence expands dramatically when enterprise information is augmented and enhanced with public information. Content from the social stream can be a direct line into the hearts and minds of customers. Blogs, tweets, comments and ratings are a reflection of the current state of public sentiment at any given point in time. More traditional web content such as news articles, product information and simple corporate informational web pages become an extension of internal research when tamed. More formal data sources are emerging in the public realm in the form of smart disclosure information from various areas of government in the US and Linked Open Data across the globe. All of these unstructured (and semi-structured) information sources become valuable extensions to enterprise information resources when approached in a Big Content manner.”

Revolutionary ...

So, maybe, this is worth thinking about, I decided, but the idea of Big Content being as revolutionary as Big Data still leaves me wide-eyed.

or Marketing Speak