by January 9, 2012 0 comments

Until recently, the term zettabyte was used only in the theoretical sense. Now, experts estimate that the world’s data has even exceeded the ZB threshold, and crossed over to more than a million petabytes! Fast-growing corners of the digital universe include those related to digital TV, surveillance cameras, Internet access in emerging countries, sensor-based appli-cations, datacenters supporting “cloud computing,” and social networks. As IT leaders re-imagine how they deliver value, information takes center stage.

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It is not simply data volume that is accelerating, but also data types and sources of data. How can an organization respond and most importantly, leverage this information to differentiate itself? For that, it’s important to understand the actions or emotions behind the data. Information has to be timely, relevant and trustworthy. This can be a challenge when information is coming from multiple sources, in multiple formats, and exploding beyond a pace that enterprises can manage.

Welcome to the era of big data — documents, emails, images and other types of digital information that we use in many ways while doing business. A few years ago, enterprise data was structured in relational databases, through applications like ERP, CRM and analytics. Today, the scenario is very different. Take CRM for instance. For many businesses, information on social media is a part of their customer relationship management process. However, this information is not structured in a formal CRM database. Some have called big data “the Industrial Revolution of data”-a historic and game-changing expansion of the role that information plays in business, government and the consumer realms.

The Drivers for Big Data

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Big data is driven by the nexus of three secular technology megatrends—cloud computing, social computing and mobile computing. Cloud computing, by changing the economics of computing, enables even more transaction data to be cost effectively captured by cloud service providers. Social computing, by enabling the next generation of data-centric applications, represents unprecedented volumes of interaction data. And, finally, mobile computing, by empowering users with context-aware and location-based services, represents the next surge in device sensor interaction data. These secular technology megatrends are driving big data-larger volumes, broader variety, higher velocity and more business value.

For the last 40 years, the IT industry has been focused on automating business processes by using relational databases to process transaction data. This data has become fragmented and locked within operational and analytical systems, both on premise and in the cloud. Data integration technology integrated these transactional data silos. Over time the volume of this transaction data has grown to outpace the capabilities of IT to effectively manage and process what has become “Big Transaction Data”.

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Today organizations are also confronted with an explosion of a new type of data called “Big Interaction Data” which poses new challenges and opportunities. Organizations are keen on monetizing interaction data including that from social networks, machine generated data such as surveillance cameras and sensors, Internet access in emerging countries, datacenters supporting cloud computing and geospatial data from smartphones and tablets. CIOs are reimagining how they can continue to deliver more value to the business and are keen on turning data into opportunities.

However, some IT organizations are not adequately prepared to access, process, integrate and deliver this data. Combining Big Interaction Data with Big Transaction Data will unleash great new opportunities for the data-centric enterprise and drive competitive advantage.

Dealing with Big Data

IT departments may be feeling the brunt of escalating expectations of information delivery to executives and managers, front-line staff, customers, or partners. They lack the flexible, scalable data and information infrastructures required to exploit big data for critical insights that translate into advantage.

The inability to cope with big data is not just an opportunity lost. It introduces a substantial risk. Rising data volumes can obscure visibility into opportunities and threats. Data complexity can compromise compliance. Ceaseless streams of real-time data from multiple channels can degrade customer sales and service.

Whether big data becomes an organisation’s greatest asset or one of its gravest liabilities depends on the strategies and solutions put in place in the near term to deal with epic growth in data volumes, complexity, diversity and velocity. Data integration enables organisations to hit the big data sweet spot-combining traditional transaction data with new interaction data to generate insights and value otherwise unachievable.

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