Is Big Data Analytics Just a Buzzword?

By | Mar 17, 2014

It is no surprise that big data analytics was the central focus of Gartner's 2014 BI Summit in London, but one panel had to field an unusual question regarding the future of one of IT's central buzzwords. The answers were mixed, but reading between the lines shows that experts agree on how the approaching information crush will define business intelligence over the next decade.

Big Data Here to Stay

Information experts from companies such as SAS, SAP and Accenture were asked for their response to a statement saying that big data is just an overhyped buzzword that no one will be talking about in three years. The responses from the panel were varied, but all seemed to agree that, even if the actual term stops being used, the fundamentals behind this movement will continue to grow.

As detailed in a CBR article, Timo Elliott, an innovation evangelist with SAP, noted that the term was provocative enough to engage people in conversations about big data analytics, and for that reason he hopes the term will stick around for a while. Mark Torr of SAS and Nick Millman of Accenture believe that the term will be replaced within a few years with another buzzword, but both agree that the concepts behind big data will continue on.

If the term does fall out of fashion, the consensus seemed to be that it would not be because of big changes in the way businesses need information to power better decisions but rather because the term will simply become synonymous with business intelligence.

Where big data analytics is headed remains a question. A Gigaom article brings some interesting angles to the discussion. One prediction suggests that the prevalence of big data applications will allow almost anyone to structure and visualize data. Another imagines that the need for actionable intelligence will give rise to the use of artificial intelligence, which will allow computers and algorithms to find value in the upcoming crush of data. Both of these predictions are important because they foresee IT being freed up from dealing with the collation and presentation of data. This freedom will allow IT departments to work on more value-driven duties, which should be welcome news for IT managers currently struggling with the dual tasks of efficiently collecting and storing information and making sense of it.

Midsize Initiatives

For midsize businesses, the need for data-driven decision making has never been greater. These businesses want to leverage intelligence into revenue in a competitive marketplace, yet they are often constrained by budgetary concerns when it comes to adopting cutting-edge technology.

IT managers at these businesses must realize that big data analytics, regardless of whether the term changes or not, is the future of information technology. Adopting the infrastructure, policies and experience necessary to take advantage of the flood of information that is now available has to become a priority if these businesses expect to remain competitive. Waiting until the cost of adoption comes down is a mistake because those who adopt now will have moved on to the next form of information management when that time comes, leaving those who waited one step behind.

Big data is here to stay. The best path forward for midsize businesses is to embrace that fact and to begin to investigate how to maximize the value they derive from the new world of data-driven analytics.

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. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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