Big Data hype still here, but maturity beckons

IDC Analyst: Big data is about decision-making, not just technology for technology's sake

Few tech industry buzzwords have gotten as vigorous a workout as 'big data', but while the hype remains plentiful, it is starting to give way to real-life successes as well as formal ways companies can develop big data strategies, according to a number of IDC analysts.

"We're at this period now where there's certainly a lot of hype, a lot of promise," said IDC analyst, Dan Vesset, during a panel session at the research firm's Directions 2013 conference in Boston in March. "The question is what's reality, and what can and should companies do in the near and short term?"

IDC, which is owned by IDG News Service's parent company International Data Group, defines big data as information-driven, tactical decision-making resulting in new economic value, derived from large data volumes from a wide variety of sources, Vesset said.

The first point is crucial, according to Vesset.

"We can be installing all kinds of technology but the important thing is to improve the decision-making," Vesset said. "You can have the greatest Hadoop deployment in the world but it's not going to be enough," he added, referring to the popular open-source data-processing framework that is synonymous with the big data movement.

Progressive is one example of a company using big data projects to transform their business, said IDC analyst, Michael Versace, who presented with Vesset. Using detailed information about customers' driving habits, the insurer has created a usage-based model that defines a policy's price down to the individual, he said.

Progressive gets the data through a device a driver plugs into a car's diagnostic port, according to its website. It can track how often customers slam on their brakes, drive late at night and other possibly risky driving habits. If the data shows a customer is driving safely, they can get significant discounts on their insurance.

Meanwhile, a number of challenges stand in the way of companies wishing to launch successful big data projects of their own, according to Vesset. These include the dilemma of what business data should be stored and what should be discarded, the cost of acquiring needed technologies and a lack of IT professionals with the necessary skills.

The last problem will likely become more severe in the near future, according to Versace. "That gene pool is growing pretty shallow right now."

Some misperceptions also persist with regard to big data, Vesset said. For one thing, "it's not all about social media," he said. "That's one of the big fallacies out there, that big data is all about clickstream analysis."

Nor is Hadoop a sole solution, since it's oriented to large-scale batch processing and not real-time monitoring, such as a rail company tracking the performance of specific components in their train cars as they deliver shipments, he said.

The analyst firm has created a 'maturity model' for big data, which Vesset and Versace described in their session. It spans five subject areas: Data, people, process, technology and intent; and five stages of deployment: ad hoc, opportunistic, repeatable, managed and optimised.

A first step for companies just starting out with big data is to identify opportunities to use their existing technology and data in new ways, evaluate public cloud and open-source options, and start experimenting with proof-of-concept exercises and prototypes, according to the analysts.

Over the following one to two years, those companies should look to use early successes with big data projects to justify funding for larger efforts. In the same period, it would be wise to also look for sponsors within business departments who will champion big data projects, they said.

Some 80 per cent of what can be considered big data is unstructured or semi-structured information, said IDC analyst, David Schubmehl, during another presentation at the event. These sources could include anything from clickstream data to patent records, research archives and even video, he said.

This diversity will give rise to what IDC is calling unified information access technology, evidenced by products such as Oracle's Endeca and IBM's Vivisimo, as well as specialised vendors like Attivio.

Big data's challenges will also continue influencing the database industry, with growing prominence for technologies like graph and in-memory database platforms, said IDC analyst Carl Olofson during the presentation.

Traditional relational databases will also change, with capabilities expanding "to the point Ted Codd wouldn't recognise them," Olofson said, referring to the 'father' of the relational model.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

How can organisations debias their decisions?

​People whose personal details and experiences signal they come from racially diverse backgrounds are less likely than anglo or Caucasian candidates to make it through the first cut in recruitment processes. Even if the organisation says it values diversity.

Dr Karen Morley

Author, commentator

​ Coronavirus is rapidly changing customer behaviour: Is your marketing team adapting quickly enough?

The impact of coronavirus is far reaching with the true impact on the economy and businesses is unknown. While there are a few categories and brands experiencing growth, for the most part the crisis is wreaking havoc for large and small operators across many sectors including entertainment, tourism, retail, fitness, services and the list goes on.

Teresa Sperti

Founder, Arktic Fox

Why COVID-19 makes it more important than ever to move at the speed of the consumer

There is no doubt the challenges we are facing as businesses, advertisers and audiences with COVID-19 are all unprecedented. But with this comes an opportunity to take stock and re-evaluate current strategies, plans and processes to drive efficiencies and relevance in today's market.

Emma Macey

General manager, SuperNova Media

Great article. Well said!Https://www.virtualtradesho...Virtual conference

Curtis Okeefe

Can virtual events fill the digital conference gap?

Read more

Why these voice assistants are so popular nowadays? Maybe I should get one too? I am really curious.

Jill Kim

Aussie brands jump on voice-interaction bandwagon following Amazon Alexa's local launch

Read more

We encourage you to share your thoughts on your favorite social platform. Digital Marketing Consultant HyderabadDigital Marketing Analyst...

Chaitanya Nandigam

CMO interview: Charting a new customer course at a NFP fintech

Read more

Extremely insightful and well written. Thanks for the great article!

Nicole Brodie Nahum

Why COVID-19 makes it more important than ever to move at the speed of the consumer

Read more

Blockchain is one of the fastest growing technology in today's digital era. Industries like banking and finance are already using blockch...

Aniket Singh

Can blockchain deliver on its big advertising promises?

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in