“Selfie” recently beat out “twerk” and “bitcoin” to be named The Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year. If a similar list were to exist for the most annoying and overused corporate buzzwords of 2013, then “big data” probably deserves to be near the top of it.
As we’ve previously discussed, the term “big data” is often misused to mean the kind of data analysis that could be done on a single desktop computer, when it should really be reserved for applications requiring serious processing power. That hasn't stopped it from being used in the corporate world with increasing frequency.
A search of transcripts of more than 5,000 companies contained in FactSet’s database reveals that “Big Data” has been mentioned during 841 conference calls and investor presentations this year. That’s up 43% from the 589 calls and presentations it featured in last year, and a much bigger increase than any of the other corporate buzzwords Quartz searched for. “The cloud” featured on 1,356 calls and presentations, but that was up less than 2% from last year; the more cumbersome term ”cloud computing” is clearly out of fashion, having fallen 37%. “Mobile” and “mobility” each returned more than 5,000 entries, but appeared less than they did in 2012.
Unsurprisingly, “selfie” and “twerk” didn’t feature at all on corporate conference calls or in presentations this year or last. “Bitcoin” garnered three mentions, compared to none last year. “Binge”, in the context of binge-watching movies or television, notched up 16 mentions, up from 4 in 2012, while “showrooming” (looking at goods in a brick-and-mortar store but then buying them for less online) snuck into 23 transcripts, compared to 13 last year.
And we didn’t need to use big data to figure that out.