By 2020, IDC predicts that expenditure on big data business analytics will exceed $203 billion, at a compound annual growth rate of 11.7% from the $130.1 billion that was spent in 2016.
Clearly, that kind of growth in demand for big data can only occur when businesses of all sizes and scales are making the same investment, rather than just large corporates. Big data is seen as something that can truly benefit any business from the largest corporations down to a simple retail startup trying to ship its first products around the world. The challenge is that many businesses struggle to make meaningful and sound investment, and often end up laboured with an investment that isn’t meeting their business objectives, without any real understanding on where to take it next.
The challenge of big data in the current environment
“The biggest issue with big data is that it’s still the big buzz word in IT. People understand big data as a collection of large data, and that leads them to think of it as a case of storing data, not getting insights from it. In many cases the challenge is still in getting in at the educational level and explaining what it all means, and how big data can actually help the business,” ,” Akash Jattan, head of data platforms at Qrious, said.
A lack of understanding and skills is inhibiting many companies from making the most of big data, resulting in many to be unsure on how to take that first step on the journey. A paralysis of indecision can set in, with the company being uncertain on whether to invest in a platform first, recruit a consultancy, or hire data scientists and engineers.
“There is no book that you can read and get big data right,” Jattan said. “Learning how to approach big data is a process of making mistakes and adapting quickly. It’s a transformational investment that is only going to prove effective over time, so you have to make sure that you have got the right stakeholders, the right approach, and the right buy-in from the business before you can actually implement the project and get it running effectively.”
The benefits of getting it right
Jattan pointed to an example of a hospital that was able to realise a huge improvement in its efficiency and effectiveness by using a combination of big data, and IoT-enhanced sensors.
“In a hospital that cared for a number of premature babies, management had set up the ability to take in data through sensors, and then use that information database to better understand the care of the babies.”
“What they found was that premature babies were pretty unsettled when you picked them up, fed them, and put them back down again. They also found that one nurse would actually sing to the baby and sway it for a couple of seconds, before feeding it. Those babies were far more settled as a result.”
“The other thing that the data identified is that babies cared for in this way tended to leave the hospital quicker, so by enacting it as policy there was a less of a burden on the hospital, the hospital was able to care for more families, and families could get home quicker.”
Achieving these kinds of approaches requires far more done with the data than for it to be simply collected and stored. Furthermore, it’s the kind of data strategy that relies on the entire organisation having access to the data, and the ability to derive insights from it.
“Big data is not about historical data trends. It is the way that the business buys into it and pays off the business case, but I believe that the power of big data will be how it will start to define experiences over the next couple of years. If you look at Uber for example, they have surge prices to provide pricing on the fly – that isn’t about historical data. It’s an experience, not an insight.”
“The future of analytics is in giving everyone within the business access to the data, and making sure that there’s an ecosystem that is applicable for all business units to act on,” Jattan says.
Making the most of big data
Achieving the kind of results with big data that benefit a business as much as the hospital was able to rely on experience in understanding how big data works. For that reason, many organisations are looking to big data platforms-as-a-service (BDPaaS), which allow the organisation to leverage off the experience of the platform provider, and immediately move towards unleashing organisational intelligence.
“The benefit of a BDPaaS is the experience that the provider brings to the table. The other thing is how it addresses the challenges that face an organisation in building up their big data capabilities,” Jattan said.
“The platform itself is off the shelf, and built for high performance workloads. It is designed to scale, and has security front of mind, as well as the services wrapped around that to take advantage of big data.”
In leveraging a platform such as this, customers will be able to quickly move to making strategic decisions about data, and start to combine it with the IoT, machine learning, and AI to the great benefit of the business, its efficiencies, customer satisfaction, and ultimately its profitability.
Qrious are now giving away 3 free data strategy workshops (Worth NZD 15,000). Click here to register your interest before 15 September 2017.
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.