As CIOs grapple with disruptive trends such as the Consumerization of IT and Cloud Computing that are redefining the devices and computing platforms by which we access, process, store and manage information, two other highly significant trends are rising in prominence – namely, Big Data and Smart Computing. As with most disruptive trends, Big Data and Smart Computing create both issues and opportunities for the enterprise. What’s more they are highly synergistic with one another and provide us with a glimpse of the road ahead for IT. Even this year, these trends are at the top of many priority lists. In fact, the recent Information Week Survey of 2011 Innovation Priorities found that “Getting better business intelligence to more employees, more quickly” was the third highest priority after “Make business processes more efficient” and “Introduce new IT-led products or services”.
Big Data is the name commonly given to the massive increase in information that is available to the enterprise in real-time, driven by increased access to broadband, the growth of mobile users, smart devices, intelligent sensors and much more. The issue is not just the sheer volume of data, but also its diversity and complexity. The opportunity around big data is for enterprises to turn it into actionable information for business benefit by processing and interpreting streaming data in real-time. A good example of this is P&G’s Business Sphere that allows them to make rapid business decisions related to product sales in over 180 countries worldwide.
Smart Computing is an excellent complement to the Big Data challenge because once CIOs have transformed their information infrastructures to intelligently collect, store and manage this information, they still need rapid and automated ways to sift through the data, identify patterns, and perform intelligent analytics. Many IT processes have reached a tipping point where throwing more bodies at the problem is no longer tenable. In areas such as data center infrastructure management, security event management, help desk problem management, and even financial compliance, a highly automated approach through smart computing can help to alleviate manual bottlenecks, yield real-time insights, and allow IT staff to focus on higher value activities for the business.
In conclusion, in order to capitalize on the potential of big data for business advantage, it’s important to include both big data and smart computing techniques in your overall strategy. The first step is to transform your information infrastructure to be able to deal with the big data issue. Ask yourself whether your current IT infrastructure is equipped to deal with the looming volume, diversity and complexity of big data in the years ahead. Part of your plan of attack may include projects such as storage rationalization to save costs and to make more intelligent use of your various storage technologies. The next step is to think about how and where smart computing may be able to advance the needle in terms of IT automation, helping to get the business intelligence to the right people at the right time for competitive advantage. The road ahead for IT appears to not just be about computing devices and platforms, and dealing with the myriad of choices now available to optimize price and performance, but also about how to transform information infrastructures to deal with big data and act upon it intelligently. Those that master these aspects will be well poised for the years to come.