There has been a lot of “Big Data” talk in industry for several years now. If you work for any size corporation, you most likely have heard the words “Big Data” or seen a demo or observed the glazed over look on the faces of management when the term comes up. The last 5 years have been spent educating the majority of the market on the definition of Big Data. Additionally, there have been strong efforts to peel back the covers within companies and reveal the massive treasure trove of data sitting on servers, desktops, laptops, and other sources. Connecting the dots of how Big Data intersects the data within corporations is where a corporation’s competitive advantage will come from in the coming years. Those willing to make this connection a priority will be the companies that can do more with less, and gain key insights to make the next step change in their operations.
Big Data, at its core, describes a volume of data that is beyond traditional information technology’s capability to store, manage, analyze and process efficiently. Most companies don’t have, or are just investing in, new technology to handle the data they have on premises, so most companies are in a situation where they already have big data. Other definitions mention high volume/velocity/variety data. Again, with the many automated systems, equipment, applications, and 3rd party data feeds, companies will find that they’ve entered the big data landscape, whether they realize it or not.
The market for Big Data is expected to exceed $60B US by 2020 (from $7.6B in 2011). Executive teams are getting pressure to do something with Big Data, and several companies are chasing technology – putting in big data platforms for millions of dollars, but not understanding its use or how to best gain value from their data assets. Several vendors are entering the space both for application solutions, but also for consulting expertise to help companies navigate this new technology option.
The Big Value from Big Data is the ability to effectively combine Information Technology (IT) with Operational Technology (OT). In addition, this technology is enabling companies to combine and democratize the data in their siloed disparate best in breed operations applications with one another to reveal new insights in the hands of the user base within a company. The Big Data platform allows these advances to happen, and also has the ability to move companies towards new levels of analytics – from descriptive, to predictive and on to prescriptive.
So, why should you care?
- Companies have continually improved operations through modernization of equipment, adopting new technology for data capture and reporting, automating data feeds, and applying process improvement methodologies to cut waste and add value. The effect of improved operations can be seen in increased productivity and safety, decreased energy usage and cost, better situational awareness and better two-way insight with customers, partners and vendors. Big Data and the opportunities it enables will be the next step change in improvement to operations.
- Competitors are going to embrace the technology, particularly as it gets more approachable. Companies that had good data strategy and stewardship foundation will gain value sooner, but many companies are on a relatively level playing field when it comes to stewardship (poor), so developing a data strategy and reviewing your own data asset health now is key to quick wins and potentially gaining a competitive advantage in the near future.
- Technology is always improving, and the adoption of paradigm shifting toolsets is inevitable.
- The change involved in adopting Big Data and Advanced Analytics within your organization will involve culture, procedural and technologic shifts in the way your company operates. Developing a plan now will ease some of the growing pains that come with this new technology.
There are several compelling reasons (and value cases) to adopt this new technology. Big Data and its value doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, developing a plan that focuses on your operations priorities will make the transition relatively painless. Big Data complements your existing applications and systems, and makes them more valuable and more powerful in the hands of your employees. Don’t ignore the value that you’ve accumulated in your Data Assets over the years. Unleash it!