When the Sopranos met Big Data (and lost)

Can Big Data put a choke on crimeSome of the pre-Glee generation may remember the hit HBO series ‘the Sopranos’. I recently came across this clip and it cracked me up. It shows a couple of thugs who try to shake down a Starbucks-like coffee outlet, only to hit the wall. The “little guy” being driven out of business is the local goon. Was David Chase prescient or what?

[Caution: Clip contains crude language which may be offensive to some]

Big Data, in my opinion, is a force for good – but it is going to face stiff resistance from the consumers, the more the public gets informed on what data are being collected. For instance, event data recorders¬†(EDR’s) or Automotive Black Boxes have been around for a long time. The scope of the EDR’s may not have been known earlier but there seems to be a sense of outrage now that the knowledge is shared more publicly [see the comments here and here].

In context of the linked clip, the mobsters who were trying to extort protection money out of the coffee outlet ran into a brick wall because

  • the parent company to was outside the goons’ sphere of influence, and
  • the company had a granular, microscopic view of the local store’s operations; should the books show any deviation from the corporate KPI’s for the store, it would get shut down.

I will steer clear of the debate on the Big Brother overtones of the technology. I will however state emphatically that the potential of Big Data technology is immense as illustrated by the clip above. The granular data collection affords transparencybecause without measurements there are no benchmarks. Without benchmarks you do not know the deviations from the norm and without that knowledge you cannot do timely course-correction.

All that said, not every business is ready for Big Data analytics. Sometimes the problems are more fundamental and no sense sinking money into a pit if the business processes are busted. To quantify, we recommend at least Level 3 maturity to integrate Big Data into your organization.

Analytical maturity calculator

The best organizations know that closing fraud is not a technical project. It requires process integration and an organizational commitment. The case study below is a stellar example of the benefits that can be realized with good process engineering.

Underwriting process intelligence case study


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