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The Big Data Ship Has Not Sailed - Yet

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Judging from the media and marketing hype of the last few years, it is difficult not to imagine that the big data ship has already sailed and the competition is past the horizon. This is far from the truth, according to Michal Lev-Ram's article on Fortune, and the situation is less dire. While massive data centers have been built by leaders in data collection and many more are planned worldwide, effective, business-changing results are somewhat less common. The article points to IDC survey results that report that while 22 percent of the current mass of data available is ripe for analysis, only five percent is actually analyzed.


Loading the Ship

The development of data centers is an important benefit for midsize businesses anticipating big data growth. Combined with cloud computing advancements in storage-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service models, distributed data centers with expanding capacity offer midsize businesses the opportunity to access advanced facilities without the investment in in-house infrastructure. As the internal use of business analytics advances, selectively developing localized infrastructure based on actual data and access needs can be supported by data-based business cases.

Dumping all the business data into the hold of a partnership does not remove the need to understand which data can and should be stored and analyzed. Amassing data without a plan for using it is no better than throwing it into a hole and burying it. The business still bears the responsibility of knowing and understanding the data that it produces as well as the relevance of that data if there is hope in producing actionable insights.


Making the Connection

A big data strategy that engages external partners for storage must be embedded within a larger IT strategy for access to cloud resources; a cloud solution does not remove the need for investment in the supporting connections within the business IT infrastructure. On a human resources front, IT professionals will require the knowledge to manage larger and larger data communication as well as an increasing number of data connections.

The data may be off-site, but it is generated by the business, and the analytics are driven by the business end users. Internal IT will be managing the flow of raw data out of the business and supporting the end user analytics systems. The big data has moved beyond the hype, but the work remains for both internal resources and their external partners.


This article was written by Jason Hannula.

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