Big Data: All about the Use Case


The term Big Data was coined in 2005 by Roger Mougalas. The same year Hadoop was created by Yahoo on top Google’s MapReduce technology. We have come a long way since then. Big Data started off as a buzzword and has become a staple in today’s business world. The popularity of Big Data has made such an impact that most IT Vendors have shifted their entire messaging. A few years back we heard about Virtualization, then Cloud, which is still HUGE today, to converged infrastructure and now to how Big Data is changing the world.

For those who have read my blogs in the past, you may know that my take on Big Data is a little different than most people I communicate with. Last year at this same time, I published the following blog http://www.1cloudroad.com/why-i-think-big-data-is-the-not-the-new-style-of-it/ which seemed to stir up some discussion around my fellow bloggers. It was especially fun when I said expressed my concern at a Blogger Briefing in Barcelona with both my friends Paul Muller and Chris Selland (2 industry experts) present. Yes I believe Big Data is real and it’s changing the world we live in, but I am not convinced on how the technology vendors are pushing the message across to the enterprises and consumers.

WHY I think IT and Big Data are synonymous

Over the years we know that IT in an organization is to provide services to the Business. Simple enough right? We then came across Shadow IT, the by-product of IT organizations not being nimble enough to handle the velocity and volume of service requests. The business looked elsewhere. IT looks at Big Data in one way. IT looks at it from a strategic, user experience and perhaps a more analytical way to solve technology related issues. Albeit the concepts and underlying technology are the same, however the use of Big Data is completely different between IT and the lines of business. Sales, Marketing, Finance and HR will look at Big Data in a different way than how IT would look at Big Data. To say Big Data has no place in the IT World would be completely false. Where I believe the biggest challenge lies is in how companies in various business verticals are targeting their Big Data use cases and understanding their desired outcome.

The Challenge to position Big Data Solutions to the Enterprise

Traditionally IT vendors would sell their hardware and software solutions to the CIO, and anyone else in the IT domain. Rarely would IT vendors sell directly into the lines of business. Why would they? We have been taught that the IT organization is your technology service broker. They know what business needs. Who better than to provide you the service? Ironically as time went by, we learned that IT couldn’t deliver basic IT services fast enough to meet the business needs. This was not a one off, but a trend that led to the Shadow IT phenomenon. So Big Data is supposed to be delivered by your IT Broker right? Can we possibly believe IT now has the ability to provide Big Data Services to their lines of business?

Vendors will need to shift their target audience

For the longest time, the traditional IT Sales Account Managers sold into the CIO office and anyone below his or her organization. The office of the CIO knows best…. So we thought. The world is changing. Now sales executives will need to re-shift their focus when it comes to Big Data and talk directly to the lines of business. Will this be an easy transition? Are the hundreds if not smaller cloud based Big Data solutions better positioned to win this business directly from these large vendors? Ironically as I write this Blog HP Launches their HP HAVEN ON DEMAND. Great minds think alike I guess 🙂

Can the IT organization deliver a better Big Data Solution?

I am still a believer that the IT organization with the proper training and resources can provide better and more efficient solutions like Big Data. If we wish to bring back some stability to IT organizations, there needs to be a significant investment in IT personnel to grasp the technologies being pushed by the IT vendors. Cloud and Big Data are those focus areas.

Are you a Big Data Expert?

Just because you sell Big Data, does that make you an expert? Big Data is not a technology. Sure you need the resources and technology to power the solution. However in my opinion Big Data is an ideology, a business tool to improve your current business. The beauty of Big Data is that it applies to every business in today’s world, relative to what supply and demand were taught to be, in traditional business models we all learned to love.

Big Data is all about the Use Case

Although I do not believe that IT can deliver Big Data Solutions to their business, I do believe that IT SHOULD be using Big Data. I as tell all my customers, in 2014/15 technology is typically not an impeding factor for progress, but more so the people and processes in place to stop growth and evolution. Big Data is all about the use case and who is relying on the data and analytics. IT use cases need will rely more on machine and log data create predictive analytics as well as user experience data relative to ITSM. Marketing Big Data is another example where companies would use social data and user data to help build a more pertinent and targeted sales model to reach their target audience. Know your use case first!

Here are some interesting questions and answers prepared for Ernesto’s interview at HP Discover in Barcelona 2014.

1. A key theme so far has been around big data. Ernesto, are you seeing your clients beginning to get curious about what big data can do for them?

A. Clients are getting more curious about Big Data. Truthfully many still don’t know if it applies to them. You hear words like data mining and predictive analysis and you automatically want to be part of something which sounds so cool. Right now, I believe only large organization really understand the Big Data story.

2. What is their primary challenge in getting started?

A. The primary challenge around big data is understanding your use case as an organization and how big data initiatives will benefit you and your business. Big Data processing and initiatives could be costly if not planned and executed accordingly. Dark data and false positives could lead you down the wrong path very quickly. Big Data can be viewed as a tool for many sprints in your business throughout the year. …Whether it’s collecting social data for projects, product launches etc or collecting machine data and logs to gauge Infrastructure performance relative to you online launch. It can also looked as a “journey to improvement”, used in an ongoing effort to make your IT function more efficiently through predicative analysis and optimization.

3. We often spend a lot of time talking about data analytics and data intelligence which often leads to the software, applications and programming of data.  But what are the physical requirements of big data when it comes to volume and velocity? And how does cloud fit into that configuration?

A. Aside from data sovereignty and data privacy concerns, todays physical systems are purpose built (for the most part) to handle big data. Cloud could be an interesting option. I don’t believe Big Data is an IT problem, never really was. Lines of business understand why and how to leverage Big Data Initiatives better than the CIO and IT can. Sure IT “should” deliver the Big Data Solutions and framework for their organizations, but that is not happening. IT has its own Big Data initiatives and use cases to build. This is where the Cloud and leveraging Big Data solutions through Cloud offerings can and will be an important factor for companies looking to big data improve sales, customer experience and their business as a whole in many different facets.

4. What’s your advice on companies who are beginning to look for intelligence behind their data?

A. Build the use case and understand your objective(s) and outcome. Big Data is here to stay. What we know as Big Data today will be soon simply be “Data” tomorrow. Understand your desired output before investing. Big Data initiatives are as useful as costly software solutions never implemented due to complexity. AKA: Shelfware

Thank you.

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