Both large enterprises and small companies are becoming more familiar with the necessities of collecting, managing, and storing increasingly large volumes of information. For this reason, industry experts believe that Big Data initiatives will continue to gain momentum in 2014 and move beyond the early adoption phase in which it currently exists.
These findings were highlighted in a recent report by research firm Ovum, which also revealed that the platforms and technologies used in Big Data initiatives will diversify in the coming years, especially as organizations adopt various tools for different reasons. In many cases, decision-makers will opt to deploy multiple solutions at the same time to experience a greater overlap in capabilities and improve operations as a whole.
"The rationale is a mix of providing convenience, leveraging familiarity with SQL, and providing unified management over diverse analytic workloads. By bundling multiple engines, management of diverse analytic workloads becomes more convenient," said Tony Baer, principal software analyst at Ovum. "The drawback is that some of these engines or approaches are quite early in development; in many cases, implementations are still proprietary."
Fast data, which makes up the high-velocity portion of the Big Data landscape, will have a particular impact on how Big Data solutions are built and deployed.
A new market emerges
Analysts highlighted how Big Data applications are growing increasingly popular because these tools provide companies of all sizes with the ability to analyze large volumes of complex information without introducing unnecessary performance or financial issues. As the Big Data technology market emerges and expands, the global business software landscape will also experience growth.
A separate IDC report highlighted how Big Data and analytic solutions are driving worldwide spending on software. Analysts revealed that overall investments on applications will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 6 percent between 2012 and 2017. Data management, access, and analysis tools in particular are poised to witness an 8 percent CAGR during the forecast period.
Big Data is changing the business world, encouraging organizations of all sizes to adopt new tools and strategies to optimize performance. By planning ahead and understanding how the application environment is expected to change, executives can find and launch the tools that meet their specific needs and requirements.
During the past several months, "Big Data" terminology has been tossed around quite a bit in the business world, causing some skeptics to claim these ideas are nothing but buzzwords creating misdirection. Most pundits, however, don't agree with this conclusion, noting that "Big Data" isn't a single technology, strategy, or buzzword, but a major movement taking place in companies of all sizes.
A Forbes report highlighted this theory, noting that Big Data represents new opportunities for organizations to gather, store, and analyze large volumes of digital information to optimize performance, customer service, and other critical operations. Some experts believe the Big Data movement is larger than this because it will essentially change the face of the business world forever.
"Big Data is not a specific technology. Big Data is a movement," IT expert Mayank Bawa told Forbes. "It is about how organizations leverage different kinds of information for different types of purposes to unlock value that was previously unattainable or unknowable."
Bawa noted that the proliferation of sophisticated analytics and other solutions now gives companies the ability to understand information that was previously disregarded because there was no way to comprehend it. This development has ultimately given enterprises the power to augment operations on multiple tiers.
Big Data's reach
Although there are a number of reasons to embrace the Big Data movement, one of the best justifications is that companies can essentially collect information on anyone using the Internet. Forbes noted that Big Data's "invisible hand" enables organizations to acquire new and wider perspectives of their existing clients as well as prospective customers. This awareness provides decision-makers with insight into which direction they should move to engage with the most consumers.
A TechRepublic report highlighted how Big Data can open new doors for organizations, allowing them to pursue innovative endeavors to gain a competitive advantage over firms that continue to regard Big Data as merely a buzzword. If businesses embrace Big Data correctly, they can acquire new understandings of their markets, which will enable executives to optimize operations on multiple levels.
In the end, it is important that decision-makers realize the impact Big Data can have on their company's success. The Big Data phenomenon is a growing movement that will continue to shape the business world, forcing firms to either keep up or risk falling behind.
The use of information is becoming increasingly important across the business world as decision-makers learn to leverage various types of data to drive new strategies. Financial executives in particular are beginning to understand that using new forms of information can promote new cost-saving or revenue-generating opportunities. The only catch is that companies need to manage the complexity that comes along with pursuing these Big Data endeavors.
According to a new American Express and CFO Research study, approximately 96 percent of finance leaders believe they will need to acquire more insight from data in 2014 if they want to succeed. Exactly half of these individuals think that using advanced analytics to take a data-driven approach will allow them to grow and thrive. Interestingly, only 40 percent of respondents said they plan on increasing IT spending by more than 10 percent.
The survey found that mobile and cloud computing investments are slowly increasing, although many companies still face challenges when addressing Big Data. Despite the fact that cloud and Big Data initiatives can improve flexibility, reduce costs, and boost productivity throughout the workplace, only 23 percent of respondents said they have put implementing new business intelligence strategies at the top of their 2014 list of priorities.
Pushing the benefits of Big Data
American Express revealed that 51 percent of finance executives understand that using Big Data analytics can give them a competitive advantage. By understanding internal and external operations, decision-makers can gain greater insight into what processes need improvement and which procedures may not need as much financial backing. As a result, companies can create more accurate portrayals of their budget. However, 40 percent of respondents reported they had no intention of spending money on Big Data technologies in 2014.
A Forbes report highlighted how many top-level executives believe Big Data will win over time because they recognize its potential to predict and augment human performance. However, many decision-makers think the movement is still in an early phase, which is encouraging companies to evaluate initiatives before launching full-scale projects. This could be one reason why many finance leaders are still holding off implementing such projects.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that if a company isn't ready to become an innovator, it may remain a follower and will likely have a hard time gaining a competitive advantage. If businesses want to be top dogs in their industries, decision-makers need to be bold and experiment with up-and-coming trends, especially Big Data.
Organizations around the world have either been launching or considering deploying Big Data initiatives for the past several years, although they often struggle when identifying who will ultimately be responsible for carrying out and managing the initiatives. Although the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is sometimes considered the primary caretaker for large, unstructured information sets, these individuals will often emphasize the use of technology, not necessarily data.
This conundrum was highlighted in a recent CIO report, which noted that the Big Data landscape is still an open and unfamiliar field for many companies, which means executives can decide how to embrace their initiatives. This finding also suggests that businesses can develop a unique role that is responsible for maintaining and executing a Big Data initiative with no problem, which has led many firms to create a Chief Data Officer (CDO) position.
Decision-makers who are charged with the construction and maintenance of Big Data endeavors must demonstrate that they have a perspective that can see beyond the top layer of technology used. Although it is important that data specialists understand the use of sophisticated applications and solutions, such as scalable cloud computing infrastructures, those individuals must also recognize their organization's overarching long-term needs, CIO noted. This business mindset will help leaders create customized projects that cater to the objectives of their companies.
Getting projects on track with expectation
As the competitive nature of today's business world continues to force organizations to embrace innovative and personalized Big Data initiatives, decision-makers need to take the time to ensure those endeavors are functional. An IBM study found that Big Data programs must be associated with a number of critical responsibilities, but also have the support of C-level executives. Reaching this goal may require building a Chief Data Oficer role or getting the CIO and other top managers on board with the endeavors.
"In order to unlock the value of data, organizations need to identify different C-suite champions to get fully behind the use of analytics," said Fred Balboni of IBM Global Business Services. "Emerging roles like the chief data officer and the chief analytics officer are helping companies build an enterprise-wide data strategy to gain competitive advantage."
In the coming years, companies will find that taking the time to develop robust Big Data projects that are governed by skilled managers will be much more rewarding than simply launching a program with no prior planning.
The inevitable growth of information in the business world is driving the need for better management and evaluation strategies. The presence of Big Data without complementary analytics simply won't provide companies with anything new, and their infrastructure will continue to be weighed down by complex and incomprehensible information.
Organizations are quickly realizing the benefits associated with collecting, storing, analyzing, and using customer data in real time. Doing so often provides a competitive advantage over other companies that haven't taken a similar approach to their information management strategies. If businesses want to leverage data in real time, however, they also need to implement comprehensive analytics -- a task that is more daunting up close than it appears from afar.
This was one of the findings of a new IBM study, which found that a growing number of companies are using analytics to generate revenue, not necessarily cut costs. At the same time, however, a large segment of executives said these endeavors aren't perfect because they tend to lack support from C-level leaders, trust from other workers, and a workforce with the skills needed to make the most of such projects.
"In order to unlock the value of data, organizations need to identify different C-suite champions to get fully behind the use of analytics," said Fred Balboni, global leader and partner of the business analytics and optimization group at IBM Global Business Services.
Unfortunately, IBM noted that only a small portion of top business executives are evangelists for Big Data and analytic strategies. This lack of support often prevents organizations from achieving the customer service, financial, and other operational benefits that are otherwise associated with the complementary projects.
Plans will crumble without faith
IBM revealed that roughly 24 percent of Chief Executive Officers and Chief Operating Officers take on the roles of leading Big Data and analytics processes. Although this percentage is a jump from 2012, it still equates to a much lower level of support than cloud computing, mobile, and other endeavors that are gaining momentum. If organizations don't have executive sponsorship for Big Data, they'll encounter problems with funding, resource management, and overall progress. As a result, companies won't be able to gain the competitive advantages they need to maintain an edge over rival firms.
"It takes the right alignment of strategy, standards, technology, and organizational structure to reap the full potential of what business analytics offers," Balboni said.
Nevertheless, as Big Data continues to make headlines, high-level executives are becoming more familiar and comfortable with the initiatives. A separate CompTIA survey highlighted signs of improvement, noting that the majority of businesses in general are more confident in their Big Data programs than they were a year ago.
Despite this positive outlook, there is still room for progress. In the coming years, large enterprises and small businesses can both experience the advantages offered by Big Data and advanced analytics, including the ability to predict customer behavior, improve customer retention and engagement, and generate stronger revenue streams -- all of which will give firms an edge over organizations that haven't taken a liking to Big Data. To experience these benefits, however, decision-makers need to plan ahead and align their technological endeavors with the perspectives of C-level executives. By taking this approach, companies will improve the odds of experiencing long-term success, allowing them to augment operations in an otherwise increasingly competitive corporate environment.
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