When I started a conversation on LinkedIn about Big Data and its challenges, I didn’t imagine that it would be matched by such engagement (54 comments and counting!). It also happened to be followed by a set of alarmist articles about the state of Big Data and its little sister – Business Intelligence.

Mark Smith of Ventana had already warned us that if we stopped paying attention to usability – #1 customer requirement according to his research – our dashboards will continue to be “pathetic and our KPIs “stupid”. This was backed up by Cindi Howson of BI Scorecard whose work was highlighted by Datamation this week: only 24% of the employees at a typical company use Business Intelligence tools.

This is particularly sad because, as Cindi highlights, the potential for adoption is 100% and even the most optimistic forecasts like Nucleus’s see adoption only reaching 40% in 2013.

What’s next? Well, most recently Mark warned us that the barriers around data combination and integration do not go away with Big Data, but that they, in fact get more complicated. Antone Gonsalves from ReadWriteWeb finds “Many CIOs Completely Clueless” about Big Data, and TechCrunch’s Leena Rao suggests we should just kill Big Data.

And, if that wasn’t enough, Svetlana Sicular from Gartner released her findings at the research firm’s European Summit: Big Data has entered the “Trough of Disillusionment”.

Rough start of the year for Big Data! Even The Register is skeptical about the existence of “Data Scientists” (they do exist – and you can tell how much they make globally using this app).

As it turns out, I had the opportunity to discuss the “Trough of Disillusionment” with Svetlana last week. In fact, I used her slide in my presentation at “Big Data Date Night”, the event we organized with Facebook, Netflix, SurveyMonkey and PayPal.

The story isn’t as gloomy as most people have depicted it. We should look forward to the phase that comes after Disillusionment – “The Slope of Enlightment”.

What are your most positive thoughts on this space and what do you think? Please continue to add to the conversation on LinkedIn here – I’ll provide a recap next month!