After a few years of experimentation and early adopter successes, 2013 will be the year of larger scale adoption of big data technologies, according to Gartner.
According to a worldwide survey of IT leaders, 42% of respondents stated they had invested in big data technology, or were planning to do so within a year.
“Organisations have increased their understanding of what big data is and how it could transform the business in novel ways. The new key questions have shifted to ‘What are the strategies and skills required?’ and ‘How can we measure and ensure our return on investment?'” says Doug Laney, research VP at Gartner.
“Most organisations are still in the early stages, and few have thought through an enterprise approach or realised the profound impact that big data will have on their infrastructure, organisations and industries.”
Organisations are undertaking their big data initiatives in a rapidly shifting technological landscape with disruptive forces that produce and demand new data types and new kinds of information processing.
They turn to big data technology for two reasons: necessity and conviction. Organisations are becoming aware that big data initiatives are critical because they have identified obvious or potential business opportunities that cannot be met with traditional data sources, technologies or practices. In addition, media hype is often backed with rousing use cases.
“This makes IT and business leaders worry that they are behind competitors in launching their big data initiatives. Not to worry, ideas and opportunities at this time are boundless, and some of the biggest big data ideas come from adopting and adapting ideas from other industries,” says Frank Buytendijk, research VP at Gartner.
“Still, this makes it challenging to cut through the hype when evaluating big data technologies, approaches and project alternatives.”
Despite these challenges, Gartner predicts that by 2015, 20% of Global 1000 organisations will have established a strategic focus on “information infrastructure” equal to that of application management.
In anticipation of big data opportunities, organisations across industries are provisionally collecting and storing a burgeoning amount of operational, public, commercial and social data.
Yet in most industries – especially government, manufacturing and education – combining these sources with existing underutilised “dark data” such as emails, multimedia and other enterprise content often represents the most immediate opportunity to transform businesses.
Gartner says that by integrating and analysing a variety of data sources, not just individually, organisations can achieve the most extraordinary business insights, process optimisation and, of course, decision making.
Although most of the big data hype is about handling the sheer size and speed of data available, our research shows that the ultimate wins will be from those making sense of the broadening range of data sources.
“Business and IT executives regularly say that information is one of their company’s greatest assets,” says Laney. “Businesses are increasingly managing and deploying information more effectively than ever, but certainly not with the well-honed asset management discipline applied to their traditional material, financial or other intangible assets.
“The application of formal information valuation models will allow IT, information management and business leaders to make better-informed decisions on information management (IM), enrichment, security, risks, purchasing, collection, usage, bartering, productisation and disposal.”