Marc Wilczek
12. June 2014 0

Big data is much more than just data storage

Big data is a trend that is attracting the attention of more and more business enterprises. According to a study conducted by Gartner analysts, 64 percent of the organizations surveyed intend to launch big data projects. This is understandable because this technology promises to deliver concrete competitive advantages by enabling businesses to react much faster to changing market developments and customer demands. But are German enterprises ready to cope with these huge volumes of data?

Big data and big challenges

Generally speaking, storing raw data is not a major problem: Since the introduction of cloud computing, enterprises have been in a position to cope with mass data and store it in appropriate systems thanks to scalability. Special technologies like the Hadoop Open Source Framework are perfect for such solutions. In light of the declining prices in the storage market, data storage is not really a problem for businesses today. But this is just the first step on the long road that lies ahead. The core of big data – and its value added – becomes evident through the correlation of multiple data sources and the targeted evaluation of relevant data sets. According to Gartner, more than half of the organizations it surveyed view this as the greatest challenge facing them. Thus it is hardly surprising that only about 12 percent of all major corporate enterprises are in a position to systematically analyze their own data – according to Forrester consultants.

Big data is a business topic

The real problem is the fact that the complexity of big data is often dramatically underestimated. Big data is not purely an IT matter – it has an impact on the entire business. The purpose of technology in business today is to generate competitive advantages and enable management to make business decisions faster than their market competitors. Those who identify trends early and understand what their customers want can react much faster than other enterprises – the value generated by technology ensures their business survival and growth. But this is only possible if enterprises know exactly which data they need and how they must correlate this data to filter out precisely the information needed to ensure success.

Often a big data strategy focused on overarching business targets and issues is lacking, as is the know-how required in this particular area. Some enterprises have already begun to concentrate their activities in an internal Center of Excellence, whereas others still need to take this step. Managing big data is a mammoth task that calls for a specialized competence team. That’s why the role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) is becoming more and more important. This new function has been established many large enterprises, but in international comparison, Germany is trailing behind.

From big data to big business – with the right partner

IT providers and consultants that are familiar with data modeling and analyses have the expertise required to deliver planning support. Using structured models known as playbooks and in-depth analyses of existing processes, these advisors are able to identify successful areas of application and can help implement big data technology that addresses specific individual needs. Business enterprises should make sure that IT security is also a basic element in the strategy, starting with the design of the solution and consistently extending throughout the IT stack, i.e., from the network to the application.

German enterprises must understand that big data involves much more than just the implementation of a simple IT system. It demands comprehensive know-how in order to cope with constantly growing masses of data, using intelligent algorithms to filter out the information of relevance to business success and competitiveness. Only those enterprises that take advantage of innovative technologies like big data will survive and prosper in the age of “digital Darwinism.”

Marc Wilczek

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