Big Data Impact – Crater or Mountaintop?

By James D’Arezzo, CEO of Condusiv Technologies

We are now squarely into the era of big data.  AI, IoT, ERP, EHR and the rest of the alphabet soup of data-driven solutions have become the driving force behind organizational innovation and competitive advantage. Information technology is at the forefront of businesses fighting to stay ahead. This means that the impact of big data can either take you to the mountaintop or drill you into the crater of unfulfilled expectations.

According to a report from the Aberdeen Group, the average company is experiencing data volume growth of more than 50 percent per year from an average of 33 different sources. Primary reasons cited for this are to increase operational efficiency; make data available from departmental silos and legacy systems; lower transactional costs; and offload capacity from mainframes or data warehouse operations.

Collecting data won’t be much of a problem. The real issue will be storage, accessibility and performance. And, there are plenty of big players and start-ups creating solutions that utilize this data for applications such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and social media. These apps demand incredibly powerful computing, high-speed networks and storage response times that are far above today’s standards.

One field being heavily impacted by IoT and the need for big data analytics is healthcare. More digital tools are being brought into health IT ecosystems for both patients and clinicians to use. More medical images, which take up a tremendous amount of storage space, are also being produced. Human genome sets alone consist of hundreds of gigabytes, and the amount of sequence data is doubling every seven to nine months. Meanwhile, many healthcare institutions cannot afford the cost or lack the facilities to keep up with the demands of big data.

In the business sector, a major across-the-board function—marketing—has gone from being a largely analog and promotional activity to a heavily digitized means of delivering business growth. In the process, marketing has come to rival, and may soon surpass, traditional IT as a center for technology spend. A recent Gartner Group study suggests that marketing leaders now devote a portion of their expense budget to technology equal to 3.24 percent of total enterprise revenue, just barely behind the current CIO technology spend of 3.4 percent of revenue.

Retail also makes heavy use of data. Retail brands practicing omnichannel retail often use the same inventory in both brick-and-mortar and online stores to fulfill requests. They also collect huge amounts of customer data and need to access that data instantly both on online and in-person in order to provide the seamless experience their customers are looking for. Returns alone can be overwhelming, with clothing return rates often topping 30 to 40 percent. But for retailers whose IT networks can’t handle all this traffic, more data means more time and money wasted. Even just a few seconds of delay is known to disrupt customer experience. 

Even traditionally mechanical industries aren’t immune. Automakers are increasingly trying to make sense of the sheer amount of data that today’s cars (and consumers) demand. Annual sales of connected car technologies (think, connecting your car infotainment system to a music streaming service) is expected to triple to $122 billion by 2021. Telematics – in-car hardware that records and transmits driving metrics, often used by insurers to set rates – are now coming pre-installed in vehicles. Automakers are looking at huge investments in IT to handle all this data – costly investments, considering the low returns the automotive industry has seen in recent years.

To keep up, not just with the overall demands of big data but also with their competitors, organizations will have to get the most out of their IT technology. Part of the solution may be buying new hardware and increasing network bandwidth or outsourcing to the cloud.  However, there are quicker and more cost-effective actions IT system managers can take. One is to implement software that reduces input and output, which can improve performance dramatically, using the existing hardware infrastructure. Performance gains of 30-50 percent (and often much more, depending on the workloads) can be achieved with these kinds of solutions.

The point is, Big Data is here to stay, and the impact will be incredible. With some smart planning and implementation, that impact will take you to the mountaintop rather than leave you smoldering in the crater.

About the Author

James D’Arezzo is CEO of Condusiv Technologies,  the world leader in software-only storage performance solutions for virtual and physical server environments. His distinguished career in technology includes senior executive positions at IBM, Compaq, Autodesk and Radiant Logic.

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