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March 19, 2013

Care Needed as Big Data Tech Evolves

By Marie Lingblom

The rush of promises to harness the power of Big Data has, over the last year, created a lot of excitement — and an equal amount of anxiety — among enterprises eager not to be left behind.

According to Gartner, organizations are undertaking Big Data initiatives in a rapidly shifting technological landscape with disruptive forces that produce and demand new data types and new kinds of information processing.

Necessity and conviction, notes the research firm, are the two reasons enterprises turn to Big Data. Everyone is aware Big Data initiatives are critical; they present business opportunities that can’t be met with traditional data sources, technologies or practices.

However, media hype and a growing number of use cases make it difficult for everyone to sort out.

“IT and business leaders worry they are behind competitors in launching their Big Data initiatives. Not to worry, ideas and opportunities at this time are boundless, and some of the biggest Big Data ideas come from adopting and adapting ideas from other industries,” said Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner, in a recent Big Data report.

Gartner predicts 2013 will be the year of larger scale adoption of Big Data technologies. The research firm attributes most of the hype to worries about handling the sheer size and speed of data available, but its research indicates the ultimate wins will be from those making sense of the broadening range of data sources.

At the same time, says Buytendijk, it’s a real challenge for organizations to cut through the hype when evaluating Big Data technologies, approaches and project alternatives. In a blog this week, Mark Beyer, also a research vice president at Gartner, calls this time period in Big Data a trough that indicates a change in market dynamics.

More importantly, he cautions enterprises to be wary of some vendors’ “false claims of simplicity and promises beyond reason.” Promises that seem too good to be true, says Beyer, should be carefully vetted and even ignored in favor of maturing solutions.

When the market reaches 15 percent to 20 percent adoption, he says, Big Data will have reached the end of the hype and the beginning of productivity. The trough, he says, is a natural part of the maturation process.

Gartner predicts Big Data will be the “new normal” somewhere between 2015 and 2017. In fact, the firm is calling on “vendors that offer legitimate solutions” to join the research firm to help Big Data mature into normal IT practices. “Experienced market vendors and implementers know what it takes for a solution to mature and reach enterprise capacity,” says Beyer.

For its part, IBM last week announced the creation of the IBM Customer Experience Lab to help business leaders transform how customers experience their products, services and brands through mobile, social, cloud and advanced analytics technologies.

IBM Research scientists and business consultants will co-create with clients to deliver systems that personalize the experiences of each individual customer, identify patterns and preferences, create context from Big Data and drive scale economics, reports IBM.

The lab will provide C-suite executives direct access to a virtual team of 100 researchers, supported by IBM’s industry and domain expertise and thousands of business consultants addressing opportunities in the digital front office. The lab is focused on innovation in three primary areas: customer insight, customer engagement and employee engagement.

The idea, says Mahmoud Naghshineh, vice president of services research at IBM, is to help clients explore the possibilities presented by new assets, technologies and innovation models.

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