According to Forbes, it’s impossible to browse a news site or attend an industry event without seeing or hearing the phrase “big data” tossed around as the next big thing for business – much like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) was only a few years ago. Companies across the globe are acknowledging the fact that there is a surplus of data being collected with the potential to provide invaluable business insight. The volume of data is so large it’s measured in zettabytes, and 96 percent of that data isn’t easy to get to because it is behind a firewall, locked inside digital corporate vaults.
Few companies have actually been able to extract meaningful intelligence from all of their data and realize its full potential. In one recent report, IDC estimated that only 0.5 percent of all data is being analyzed. Many are trying to jump in on the action without a true strategy or understanding of what big data is.
The hype of big data vs. the reality of analytics
The fact of the matter is big data is not new. Enterprise organizations have been working with extremely large data sets for decades, combing through the mountains of information contained within their repositories to gain insight into customers, their buying habits and demographics. When people talk about “big data,” what they should really be talking about is analytics.
While most marketing efforts are retrospective, the promise of big data lies within the ability to make predictions based on it. That’s what gets people excited. Once big data is analyzed, trends can be revealed, correlations can be determined and business can run more efficiently.
What’s really new is the technology available that allows us to make sense of the data. Companies must be able to prioritize, organize and analyze it – both structured data (which businesses have traditionally analyzed) and unstructured data. And since 80 percent of data is unstructured, CIOs are putting greater emphasis on unlocking its secrets. What’s more, technology is helping to put structured data into context by mapping it to the vast amount of unstructured data.
The potential lies within unstructured data, but it’s not that easy
Unstructured data is facing the same challenges that structured information faced in its early days. CIOs must overcome fragmentation of information and processes; the infamous three V’s of information – volume, variety and velocity; security; and governance issues. These top four challenges, if left unsolved, can result in organizations that are slow to create change, projects that are harder to automate, increased tunnel vision among internal organizations, business risk and higher costs of IT operations.
And, when it comes down to it, not all data is vital to a business. This is particularly true as automated tools create new content without any human intervention. This type of data can easily dilute other useful information, so it is important for companies to implement centralized enterprise information management technologies that can prioritize data to be organized and analyzed. In the words of Nate Silver, we need to separate the signal from the noise and that’s not easy to do with unstructured data but we have arrived at the point where we have practical solutions to address all aspects of enterprise information management.
Unlocking the value of big data
The value of big data comes from the knowledge gained from it and what you do with it. Organizations are in need of solutions that combine both technology and business processes so they can take full advantage of their information. It can’t just be about content management, or the customer experience or information exchange. To get above the hype, CIOs must take a holistic approach to setting their big data strategy, aiming to manage and leverage all relevant information across the enterprise. Read the full article on Forbes.