The Changing Face Of Data: The Convergence Of Technologies, Devices And Apps Is Prodding More Companies To Take Big Data Seriously

In a world where ABC (Analytics, Big Data, Cloud) are converging, the need to manage, monitor and predict business outcomes and market readiness is also changing. And with the wide prevalence of tablets, smart phones and social media, the urgency to mine intelligence from the tons of raw data is prodding more companies and governments to beef up their big data plans.

Simply put, BD (big data) is the amalgamation of structured data (in databases) with unstructured data (from email, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, LinkedIn updates, video feeds, etc). After a few years of experimentation and early adopter successes, 2013 will be the year of larger scale adoption of BD technologies, says research house Gartner. According to a Gartner global survey of IT leaders, 42% of respondents stated they had invested in BD technology, or were planning to do so within a year.

“Organizations have increased their understanding of what BD is and how it could transform the business in novel ways,” says Doug Laney, a Gartner research vice president. “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?’ Most organizations are still in the early stages, and few have thought through an enterprise approach or realized the profound impact that BD will have on their infrastructure, organizations and industries.”

Meanwhile, IDC (International Data Corp) projects that the global BD technology and services market will grow at a 31.7% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) – about 700% more than the rate of the overall ICT market – with revenues reaching US$23.8 billion in 2016. IDC expects BD spending in the Asia-Pacific outside Japan to reach US$603 million in 2013, up 42.6% over 2012. The market for BD will see a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 44% from now to 2015, IDC says.

Gartner notes that enterprises are taking BD 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 BD technology for two reasons: necessity and conviction. Companies are becoming aware that BD initiatives are critical because they have identified obvious or potential business opportunities that can’t be met with traditional data sources, technologies or practices. Media hype is often backed with rousing use cases.

“This makes IT and business leaders worry that they are behind competitors in launching their BD initiatives,” notes Frank Buytendijk, a Gartner research vice president. “Not to worry, ideas and opportunities at this time are boundless, and some of the biggest BD ideas come from adopting and adapting ideas from other industries. Still, this makes it challenging to cut through the hype when evaluating big data technologies, approaches and project alternatives.”

IDC says the BD market is emerging at a rapid pace and incorporating technology and services from a wide range of existing and new market segments. While there are multiple scenarios that could unfold and many demand and supply variables remain in flux, the market will exhibit strong growth through 2016.

“The BD technology and services market represents a fast-growing, multibillion-dollar worldwide opportunity,” says Dan Vesset, IDC’s vice president for BD research. “It is an important topic on many executive agendas and presents some of the most attractive job opportunities for people with the right technology, analytics, communication, and industry domain expertise.”

One key to BD is cloud computing, which has already gone beyond the hype cycle. Forrester Research estimates the global cloud market to reach US$241 billion by 2020, from under half that level currently. More than 50% of the cloud market by 2020 will comprise hybrid clouds. That’s because enterprises such as banks, insurance companies and government departments seek full control of their sensitive, mission-critical apps and data but are willing to keep all customer-fronting information on a public cloud.

The final piece in this equation are mobile devices. Global sales of cellphones topped 428 million units in Q3 2012; smartphone sales accounting for 40% of that, says Gartner. Smartphone sales were up 47% Q3 2011, and the momentum continues. In emerging countries worldwide, especially in Asia, the smartphone is the primary device for Internet browsing and soon, shopping.

This convergence of technologies, devices and apps is prodding more companies to take BD seriously. The changing face of data will change not just the way the IT industry works, but also the way end-users and enterprises view IT. Gartner says actionable analytics will be driven by mobile, social and BD forces in 2013 and beyond. We’re just about getting started. Watch this space.

About the author: Raju Chellam is Singapore-based head of Dell’s big data & cloud practice for the South Asia & Korea region. He has 30 years of experience in the ICT industry in Asia, and is also President of the Business Continuity Group at the Singapore Computer Society.

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