The amount of data generated every day is staggering – from sales figures and customer data to email responses and stock transactions. Add to that a billion personal devices swapping texts, links, photos, and videos, all zipping across networks together. When all that information is combined, it’s known as Big Data.
Big Data’s big benefits
Although harnessing the flow of data might seem daunting, businesses are finding that extracting useful drops of information from this fire hose is not only possible, but imperative. Leaders in areas from sales to manufacturing to government are beginning to see the potential of Big Data analytics.
Imagine being able to glean deep insights into all the forces that affect company performance, making an organization more nimble, proactive, and flexible. Imagine tapping into data analytics to see customer behavior, causing a ripple effect through product development and sales efforts. Those are just a few of the benefits that an effective Big Data strategy can bring.
Why should IT care about benefits like these? Because facilitating these insights creates a more aligned and technology-centric organization, and that benefits everyone. Check out “Transform IT for Big Data” for more thoughts on major IT drivers around Big Data.
With every opportunity comes challenges
In contrast to transactional data that businesses have been using in the past, much of today’s data is unstructured, which means it doesn’t fit into a standard format, and that makes it tough to access and even harder to process. The unstructured nature of Big Data creates roadblocks in data analytics, because those trying to obtain information from an ocean of data now have to deal with other data parameters like speed of data transfer, variety of data types, and amount of data generated.
Another major challenge: the existing architecture and data management practices are often poorly suited to Big Data. IT organizations seek new flexibility for running their business intelligence environments, but with current systems, it can be difficult to scale up in order to harness Big Data’s advantages.
Then they run into problems with archiving, especially if they’re using cheap storage like magnetic tape; performing data analytics suddenly becomes a monumental task because there’s so much unusable data, and the data that is usable is too expensive to retrieve and restore.
Overcoming the challenges
Despite the sticking points, there’s hope. All it takes is a completely different approach.
It would be nice if Big Data management meant simply adding processing power and putting in more storage systems. But the fact is, handling Big Data requires a complete renovation of the conventional IT infrastructure. Every part of an IT infrastructure is a prime target for a Big Data upgrade, from cloud computing services to storage subsystems to network pipes.
Managing the IT overhaul
The entire IT ecosystem needs to change in order to boost processing and data analytics. Here are some strategies:
- One approach is enlisting outside experts to help, since they can reshape your IT infrastructure for Big Data while putting budget controls into place.
- Technology consulting services can also integrate all Big Data solutions, provide workshops and roadmap services, and free up in-house IT for other tasks.
- Recognize that whether going with in-house talent or relying on outside expertise, the emphasis should be on transformation. Create a forward-looking plan that helps you deal with Big Data’s volume.
- Target your IT infrastructure for a Big Data upgrade and include cloud computing services and newer storage technologies in the mix.
It’s no longer about preparing for Big Data’s arrival; it’s not even about keeping up with such massive data flow. The mission now, for companies of every size, is to see Big Data as an opportunity that simply can’t be missed.
To learn more about how Big Data affects your organization and how you can kick up some significant change, download this free guide, “Transform IT for Big Data.”
Adam Shomaker is a Strategic Alliance Manager with Sirius Computer Solutions.