The term “big data” gets thrown around a lot. In my limited exposure to emerging entrepreneurs in this space, it is becoming clearer to me that not all big data companies are alike, and that the value they could create depends on what level their tools and solution can help someone reach. My pedestrian background has led me to believe this: 1st level is visualization, 2nd level is actionable insight, and 3rd is discovery. Put another way, many big data companies will emerge that help the user visualize the data accessible to the masses, fewer (like Palantir) will provide insight into data trends that can help make more informed decisions, and only a very small handful of technologies and programs (say, less than 5) can actually drive true discovery. The real value will be created by one of these companies that help big companies in the life sciences, in oil & gas exploration, and in the social graph discover new markets, resources, and relationships that will power their businesses in the future.