Is patience overrated? how real-time big data affects our behavior.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m fairly action driven. One of the skills that is often pointed out to me for a lack thereof is patience. If you want an illustration of my personality, I encourage you to read this comic:
Thank you @shenanigansen. Seriously, I have a problem. My cousin would tell me I need to do yoga, many of my friends would tell me I should practice mindfulness, and my Dad would tell me I should be patient. Here is my take on it: I think patience is overrated, and I think that it is the result of the technology we have at our disposal.
The advent of real-time in Big Data
A couple of years ago, the selling point of big data was the big in big data. Being able to store practically unlimited amount of data was a game changer. But if you look at the recent trends (see a few excerpts here, here, and here), real-time and speed are selling points. People want access to their data quickly, and I can tell you it is a major part of my every data pitch. To be fair, the shortening of time of any part of your life is a trademark of the modern era, as much as hipsters are trying to fight it (typewriters, anyone?). However, I do think that accelerating big data access and storage has and will continue to be one of the trends that impacts that acceleration the most. Indeed with the luxury to record everything in our lives, through IoT or simply by being a normal being that spends a significant portion of his time in the virtual realm (a.k.a. surfing the web or playing video games), real-time is the next game changer after personalization.
What that means for us, the end user
We are already a product being sold by any social media, site, fitness tracker or video game. And we already see the outcome of this by targeted ads, suggestions and so on. But these suggestions can be a bit off at times (think suggestion about something you already bought), on the account of the algorithms needing more iteration, but also by the lack of sufficient data, not because of pure lack of it but by the latency of gathering all these pieces of data together. Imagine what speed can add to these phenomena. The accuracy of the suggestions will be at times frightening, but mostly we will become more impatient. And we already see results of that. An recent example would be the reaction of retailers about using cup readers, due to their processing time. We’re talking about a few seconds of difference, but it matters to us, the end user. Personally, if I can’t use contactless payment and have to pull out my card like and animal, I’m annoyed. And this trend will continue folks, make no mistake.
Conclusion & Limitations
So why should I be patient? Why should I have to wait for a specific outcome? The frustration comes from the fact that many situations for which you are impatient are not limited anymore by logistics themselves but by inaction, at least in the business world. But my point is the following: the world of data and therefore to some extent our personal world is moving to real-time. You can decide to be an outsider and there is of course value in this, or you need to adapt. The value of waiting for a possible different situation is overrated. For instance, let’s say you have to make a life changing decision. Chances are that the amount of data that you will have to make that decision now versus 3 weeks from now is going to be roughly similar. So why not take the decision now? Why be patient?
Of course, this may sound like I’m advocating for having results now now now now, like a 3 year-old (and I talk from experience). This is not it, valuing highly hard incremental work towards a long term goal is extremely important, but patience as an excuse to inaction isn’t.