The rise of big data – the ability to gather massive amounts of information about both environment and operations – rests on the assumption that having more data gives organizations better control and the ability to avoid nasty surprises. It doesn’t. To understand why, consider the Cuba missile crisis.
Fifty years ago exactly on October 16th, 1962, at precisely 8:45 AM, President Kennedy was informed that the Soviet Union had been secretly installing ballistic missiles in Cuba. It was the beginning of a crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Yet Sherman Kent, founding father of the analytic arm of the CIA had repeatedly dismissed the possibility of such action by the Soviets., That morning, as he left the CIA Director’s office, he declared: “I’ve just been made a charter member of the bleeding assh*** society.”