Posted on Monday 21st May 2012 2:42
As a leading observer of emerging technology trends, it’s not surprising that Gartner has been keeping a close eye on big data. Earlier this week it lifted the lid on the subject in a fascinating webinar titled “Gaining Value from Big Data”, which we joined to get the inside track on how analysts believe a sector that last year Gartner estimated accounted for $10bn of revenue And what did we learn?
Firstly that Doug Laney, the Gartner Senior Vice President who led the webinar, believes that big data has become such a hot topic this year because it define a point at which several analytics and business intelligence trends converge. He called them the “seven C’s”, which he categorised as follows:-
1. Consumerisation – The increasing use of consumer technologies for business applications
2. Content – Data – especially unstructured data, often gleaned from social networks – is abundant in a way it’s never been before
3. Capabilities – Recent innovations in analytics technology, particularly in disciplines such as data integration, mean it’s never been as easy or cheap to collect, clean and analyse the abundance of unstructured data now at businesses’ disposal
4. Culture Shift – The availability of data and the technology to analyse it has given rise to the data scientist, who interrogates huge data sets to identify the trends and insights that increasingly define the forward strategies of many companies. This is changing decision-making from being a managerial art based on instinct to a science based on the analysis of empirical data
5. Collaboration – Technology means it’s never been easier for individuals across organisations to work with one another on major projects
6 & 7. Changing Climate – As businesses increasingly come to view their data as being a business asset in its own right, their use of data will become a key competitive differentiator, and eventually will prove key to their ongoing business success
One of the key challenges Laney sees for businesses who want to make use of big data is focus. With so much data out there for the taking – he claims the number of places from which organisations could source data had grown by more than five times in the past 10-15 years – it’s incredibly easy for organisations to lose focus. Instead, Laney recommends that businesses start by cleaning out their cupboards, taking advantage of new, or not so new, data sources within their own organisation before moving on to external sources.
Even so, Gartner believes that leveraging big data will be a long-term rather than an immediate-term goal for most companies, estimating that 85% of Fortune 500 organisations won’t be able to use it to competitive advantage before 2015. Between now and then there is much to do in terms of setting in place the policies, management structures and technologies through which data will be stored, analysed and utilised by the enterprise.
All in all it was a fascinating discussion, and one we’d heartily recommend taking some time out to listen to.