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Introducing BigSheets: An interview with Rod Smith

At IOD EMEA I had the opportunity to sit down with Marie Wallace (Hadoop and "Twitalytics") to learn about a new project out of IBM Emerging Technologies called BigSheets, which in a nutshell allows business professionals (not just programmers) to use a spreadsheet metaphor in a browser to leverage millions and millions of rows of data.

If you're looking for more information on this capability, take a look at this interview with Rod Smith, VP of Emerging Technologies and IBM Fellow, where he lays out really succinctly what BigSheets is and why it's a big deal.

In the video, Rod summarizes Big Sheets as "An insight engine for line of business professionals that allows them to get insights from web-scale data."

Think about the scale that many organizations have to work with today (or wish they could), dealing with millions or even billions of documents.  (Just one example cited would be government organizations that need to go back to look at documents over 20, 30, or even 40 year.)  BigSheets is designed help organizations crawl and explore information at a fraction of the cost required today.

Rod describes what differentiates BigSheets from other analytical tools:
1.        Working with lots of unstructured information.  It takes work to get insight out of data of that scope, and Hadoop helps us to do that.
2.        The spreadsheet metaphor we're using is unique, and tailored it towards particular business patterns (e.g., pharmaceutical trials, M&A, retail), and designed for use by business professionals, not programmers (while, as above, still allowing them to leverage the Hadoop infrastructure).

As for why it was named "BigSheets?"  He explains that as the team talked to customers and started to lay out what they wanted to do with information, they kept hearing the spreadsheet metaphor. Big data... big worksheets...  hence the name "BigSheets."

***Update - See below for additional links and demo videos***


Demo videos: