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Data and Connectedness Create a Reputation Wild West

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Data and Connectedness Create a Reputation Wild West

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Welcome to 24 x 7 x 365 connectedness and the challenges that come with an always-on world. That world is generating data, loads of data. And the more we’re ‘on’, the more data, and the more reason to be ‘on’. It’s a never ending cycle of chasing our data tail.

Evolving technology and people

That data can be used for good or evil, to support a person or tear them down…to build a business case or to kill it. We can measure and judge organizations and people like never before. We suddenly find ourselves with streams of raw data we never had in the past and a choice for how to use them.

This leads to the biggest challenge of enormous data and connectedness: the disruption that comes with something so powerful and yet lacking standards, best practices, societal norms, laws/protections and all of the other trappings of a mature way of doing business. Data and connectedness are the Wild West.

Data darwinism

GigaOM’s Om Malik published an excellent piece yesterday where he said, “I do think it is important for us to start talking about what the etiquette of a connected and quantified society will be.” While we’re figuring out that etiquette, reputations are made or lost across always-on networks of connectedness that haven’t been calibrated for fairness. Malik sees, and I agree, that reputation will be the most powerful currency when we quantify everything, all of the time. It’s a much tougher world when everyone gets scored and there’s less room for charisma and pluck.

Quantified enterprise

Theo Priestley wrote his own response to Malik’s piece, Are you ready for the Quantified EnterpriseHe takes the idea one step further to the workplace, where data and connectedness allow for a level of worker, customer and supplier quantification that creates opportunities and risks we’ve never faced before. Asking if organizations should be transparent with what they quantify, Priestley queries, “Would it mean that consumers could very well choose who they deal with on the inside based on their transparency and reputation?” How much do we let quantification be the guide for how much we pay, when we promote and who we fire?

Do we let employees be reputational entrepreneurs, less managed and ‘evaluated’ in the traditional sense but more focused on doing the things that push their reputations forward? Businesses could benefit enormously from a system that rewards those who figure it out but I can see the hardship for those who aren’t ready for work that judges so personally. Truth be told, we’ve always had a system like this but it was never black and white, always offering enough gray for the sub-par to slip through unscathed.

In the end, maybe there aren’t enough excellent employees for the world to be too harsh to the sub par. Ubiquitous data and connectedness might just give us information that backs up our hunch or changes our mind without changing the status quo too much. As Theo says, “Only time will tell.”

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