The Next Big Data Phase: Business Knowledge Expansion

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Big data—a now well-used term intended to define the growing volume, variety, velocity, and value of information surging through organizations—has been on our radar screens for more than 2 years. In the process, it has become more than a buzz phrase thrown about at conferences and in the trade press—big data is now seen as the core of enterprise growth strategies.

Business leaders recognize the rewards of effectively capturing and building insights from big data, and see the greatest opportunities for big data in competing more effectively and growing business revenue streams.


The benefits that will flow from big data will only come about if the information is adroitly managed, however. Many data shops have been successfully focusing on the technical issues in recent years, but a more formidable challenge looms: making big data valuable to the business. “We are beginning to see the emergence of a new set of challenges relating to improving performance, generating business value and achieving returns on investment,” says Nicholas Millman, digital, data and analytics lead at Accenture. While there has been considerable attention to the technical challenges of big data, he defines the new set of challenges as the “four T’s” that organizations seeking to harness the power of big data need to address: “talent, trust, transformation, and tangible results.”

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Big data and big data management “has greatly matured over the years,” agrees Gary Bloom, president and CEO at MarkLogic. “Just a few years ago, companies were more concerned with management systems that could capture, manage and properly process datasets at a decent speed. Now, the focus has shifted to much larger quantities of data.”

Over the coming year, Bloom predicts, “the big hype of big data will be demystified. People will see examples of what customers are actually doing with NoSQL databases and realize that for big data you need a very different tool from

RDBMSs, but can’t compromise on enterprise capability such as transactional consistency, high availability, scalability, security, back-up and recovery.” Steve Weiss, manager of strategic development for UC4 Software, cites joint research undertaken by IBM and OxfordUniversity in which up to 63% of enterprises reported that big data initiatives are creating highly measurable competitive advantages for their organizations. “The number of positive outcomes has been increased substantially just over the past 2 years,” he adds. “Increasing the chance of having the best possible outcome—a term usually reserved for scientists and experimenters—is now finding its way into the boardroom and business management team meetings.”

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