As we move swiftly into 2013, there are a number of areas where we anticipate organizations will be refining their approaches to leverage the financial potential of big data and smart computing. We foresee two major themes: firstly, pre-optimizing existing IT infrastructures for “big data readiness” and, secondly, determining and prioritizing high-value opportunity areas.
Looking at the first theme of “big data readiness”, as enterprises seek to tap into the flood of data being collected in real-time across their business operations to better serve customers, open new markets, and reduce costs, we anticipate they will transform their underlying information infrastructures as part of their overall roadmap for big data implementation. These IT hygiene steps will help them to assess and optimize areas such as storage infrastructure and data management so that their subsequent big data analytics is built upon a robust and future-ready foundation.
Related to the second theme, we believe that organizations paying the most attention to determining and carefully prioritizing their high-value functional areas for analytics will stand to gain the most from big data investments. This is no simple task and we believe that last year’s emphasis on identifying which data streams can provide the greatest payback via real-time decision-making will continue into 2013. Organizations will start to focus in on highly targeted areas for big data analytics, moving beyond sales data and customer sentiment and into aspects that can directly impact and help to optimize areas such as IT service levels and mission-critical operational processes. We’ve all heard about applying big data analytics for preventative maintenance in heavy industry, but imagine the potential when this same approach is applied across all computing devices and IT infrastructure in any industry. Intelligent analytics will be a powerful means for IT departments to better manage the growing diversity and complexity of bring-your-own-devices (BYOD) and bring-your-own-applications (BYOA).
Organizations will also realize there is no, single, magic skill-set for big data that they can easily specify and secure. We expect organizations will look for a combination of technical skills in platforms such as Hadoop together with industry-oriented analytics skills. We see the best leverage from building the confidence of business analysts within their own organizations to ask deep questions, working with people skilled in Hadoop and related technologies to derive answers to the questions – iteratively. It’s not a “once and done” undertaking.
One of the interesting things about big data initiatives, is that they necessitate strategic thinking in terms of asking strategic questions for the business and then coming up with innovative answers to these questions. For example, what data, if it was more timely, could yield operational improvements or competitive advantage? What combinations of data, previously treated distinctly, could help identify patterns which could then be rapidly acted upon to optimize business processes and adapt on-the-fly to the changing business environment? Of course, there’s many more questions that can be posed, and in 2013, those organizations that can best mine the insights hidden in their data will have the best chance of turning data into information, and ultimately into competitive advantage.