The Real-World Use of Big Data



 
 

Mid-October brings thoughts of the vibrant colors of fall foliage, hauling your boat out of the water (if you live in the Northeast..), and a business focus on making an impact to end one’s fiscal year. October also brought us a new study by IBM’s Institute for Business Value and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, titled Analytics: The real-world use of big data. I had the pleasure of being part of the team that contributed to analyzing some of the results.

The market buzz around big data is near deafening. Like most emerging business or technology concepts, the race is on to define, categorize and understand the business impact. However, there are times when it’s important to take a more pragmatic approach in understanding the underlying behavior and drivers of companies actually considering or “doing” big data. This study is a practical approach in defining how companies are taking the journey to educate, explore, engage and execute on the promise of big data. We believe this is the first attempt to gain insight into the approach organizations are experiencing today from companies at all levels of big data “maturity.”

Business Driven Outcomes

I recommend you read the report which is available at no cost here. The major findings of this study suggest:

  1. Customer analytics are driving big data initiativesin a study last year conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value and MIT, it was clear that analytics was moving from business initiative to business imperative. This year, it has become clear that accelerated adoption of analytics is driving a desire to analyze and predict more with better data, hence the interest in big data.

  2. Big data is dependent upon a scalable and extensible information foundation – an often overlooked element of analytics solutions is the underlying IT infrastructure required to execute and achieve business results. The notion of a scalable and resilient information and technology architecture is an important planning consideration, not an afterthought.

  3. Initial big data efforts are focused on gaining insights from internal data – Social media is often the poster child for big data use cases. However, organizations see value in their own backyard by looking at internal data that is waiting to be analyzed.

  4. Big data requires strong analytics capabilities – Before the term Data Scientist became popularized, there was the statistician or business analyst. Depending upon the industry you were in, those in-house skills were either present or nonexistent. Big data is causing a shift in how we “do” analytics that is causing a skills shortage needed by organizations that are adopting more advanced analytical techniques.

  5. Adoption of big data is focused upon delivering measureable business value, which happens in four stages – educate, explore, engage and execute. There is a clear path as to how organizations adopt big data techniques into their processes and architectures. Many are in the early stages and can learn from organizations that have already advanced their big data capabilities in order to achieve faster time to value.

Big Data Adoption Stages

I invite you to read more about the big data “journey” in our latest study. You can download a copy here.

You can also learn more about the infrastructure behind many Big Data client implementations at IBM’s 2012 Information on Demand conference in Las Vegas Oct 21-25th. Visit the Smarter Computing Zone where we’ll have demonstrations and examples of Big Data at work, plus sessions with clients such as Sprint, ADP, AXTEL, Miami-Dade County and others who have already successfully applied Big Data to their organizations.

Finally, where we’ll provide updates during the week. Hope to see you there!

 
 
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