No matter what industry you are involved in, the chances that you have heard about the concept of ‘Big Data’ as a ‘Big’ trend for 2013, are quite high. In fact, the IDC* is predicting that the Big Data market will grow at a rate of 31.7% until it reaches $23.8 billion in 2016.
Says Martin Rennhackkamp, CIO of PBT Group; “Such statistics provide a strong benchmark as to why Big Data is making waves in the Business Intelligence (BI) industry – as well as among businesses. However, while I do agree with these sentiments regarding Big Data and where this concept is headed, having tracked the evolution of Big Data over the past year, too often I find that the concept is not clearly defined and therefore not fully understood – especially by South African businesses. Yes, the concept is exciting where, if done correctly, Big Data can add business value, however the complexities of Big Data need to be clearly understood to ensure that business decision makers and companies are not left feeling disappointed when they invest in this trend in 2013.”
With various definitions available around Big Data, where does one start with deciphering this concept? Continues Rennhackkamp; “Firstly, it is important to note that most of the definitions available are not necessarily definitions but rather descriptions of Big Data. These descriptions help us to understand the broader concept of Big Data, as well as unpack this term to determine how, and if, a business should be investing in Big Data. Big Data cannot be defined as one aspect but rather needs to be understood through how it is described within the industry.”
Through understanding the descriptions of Big Data, businesses can correctly measure what Big Data should offer to an organisation to actually add business value. Big Data only starts to add value to the business if it can be transformed to structured data and integrated with the other structured data that already exists within the organisation’s BI capabilities. Further to this is the reality that Big Data hardly ever generates completely new value (which is often the expectation), but rather by unearthing and augmenting additional insights, it often compliments or adds value.
Continues Rennhackkamp; “Not all organisations actually need Big Data or even have access to it, especially South Africa ones. Such insight can only be gathered through the proper investigation and understanding of the concept.”
Considering this, to get Big Data right, PBT Group suggests businesses should consider the following:
- Thoroughly investigate the term, even if through a pilot project to ascertain your businesses need for it.
- Note that what can be gathered from Big Data may not necessarily address any real business problem
- There are a very definite set of Big Data technologies available out there, however each of these only addresses certain classes of problems – there is no one size fits all solution.
- Organisations have to analyse what they need to do (i.e. the business problem they need to address), determine whether Big Data is even a solution to this, and if it is, which Big Data technology is appropriate.
“As a trend, identified by leading research house Gartner**, there is no denying that the term Big Data is here to stay. However, my advice to all organisations looking at Big Data as an investment trend for 2013, is that the investigation of this concept is critical (even if it is through pilot project), as if the investigation into Big Data proves positive then the benefits it should offer can be attained,” concludes Rennhackkamp.
*IDC says big data will be $24B market in 2016; I say it’s bigger, http://gigaom.com/2013/01/08/idc-says-big-data-will-be-24b-market-in-2016-i-say-its-bigger/
**Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013, http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2209615