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Realizing Business Value from Big Data

Posted by Vishnu Bhat (View Profile | View All Posts) | March 12, 2013 10:08 AM

We are at an inflection point in information management. Enterprises, till very recently, were pretty much entirely fueled by structured data - for processing, analysis and insight generation. The promise of Big Data has of course loomed large for some time now, but with emphasis mostly on socially generated unstructured data in the Internet - whether for brand assessment, consumer sentiment analysis or simply tracking recall value.

There is something amiss here. The fact is that enterprises have completely ignored the vast reserves of unstructured data tucked away within the walls of their corporations - accounting for over 80% of organizational data, including documents, data on tapes, and such like. This is the dark secret in most enterprises.

Business organizations have always hungered for data that can provide action-driving insights. Yet, they've seldom got something easily and fast. The wait for meaningful data has always been excruciatingly long. And, when they do manage to get to the data or insight, more often than not, the requirement is no longer pressing, and the opportunity gone cold.

The IT side of the organization, on the other hand, has been seeking flexibility to create business-specific-insight delivering applications. The demand for instant insight has them scrambling to create more and more structured data puddles - often for months on end. And this, more often than not, has only resulted in a greater data mess.

So what is this inflection point I speak of? Think about it - what if organizations are able to seamlessly integrate their data ecosystems - the 20% or so structured data, 80% unstructured data within the organization and the exploding volumes of external socially generated data?! That's not all - What if it were easy and simple for businesses to access it all? Think of a scenario where this data discovery process - from every dark corner of the enterprise - is predictably enabled. Insight development, linked to a framework for quick decision-making and action, is accelerated. And data - democratized, along with the insights it holds, is made available to all who need it now.

That is exactly the promise held by a new specialist Big Data platform. This platform is designed to address the analytical needs of both the business and technology sides of the organization. So, it provides technology the flexibility to rapidly develop industry-specific Big Data applications, and business the ability to access relevant Big Data, extract its insights, and take appropriate action on time - even real time. So, where Big Data heralds the age of insight-on-demand, the platform democratizes this Big Data, and empowers all who claim a share in it.

What does this mean to the average user? I'd say - the availability of a self-service Big Data analytics value chain that can be leveraged to discover unstructured and structured data from every imaginable source - within and outside the enterprise, generate insights, and execute decisions, on demand, and on time, while the window of influence is still open. For instance, for a line of business head, at a retailing outfit, this means the ability to make timely geo-specific pricing decisions based on insights around product movements in various parts of the world. Or, to a networking professional, it means the ability to sense an outage well on time and launch a preventive intervention. To a bank's Chief Security Officer, it means being able to identify risk triggers in real-time, across multiple channels, and then prevent account takeovers and insurance fraud. While, for a medical practitioner it means the ability to not just react to a beeping ICU monitor but respond to an alert about an imminent medical emergency before it occurs.

That's why, I believe the inflection point in information management. Is here. This is the new-age of information management. And true business value from Big Data is a certainty.

First Published on Wired.com, dated on March 6, 2013

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