Organizations Struggle To Find Big Data Value

Yep, Big Data is not going away any time soon. In fact most can agree it’s on an exponential growth spike, thanks to a barrage of smartphones, tablets, video cameras, smart meters and other connected devices. And the resulting data avalanche represents a potential represent a gold mine of value for organizations.

That said, most organizations fail to extract strategic value from all of that information — which means that for now, some of the biggest opportunities are Big Data are likely never realized, according to a Cisco Systems Inc. study, the Cisco Connected World Technology Report. But before determining value, organizations will have to come to terms with the entirety of their Big Data environment, indicating that for now, the biggest channel opportunity resides in simply defining and assessing everything their customers have.

But next steps aren’t far behind. While most organizations are ramping up the ability to collect, store and analyze data, many are struggling to adequately apply Big Data to business and IT needs.

By all accounts Big Data appears to be a top priority going forward for many organizations. And those that take advantage of its benefits will achieve a competitive edge. Globally, 60 percent of survey respondents said they believe Big Data can help businesses and countries to improve decision making and global competitiveness. Also, more than two-thirds of IT managers contend that Big Data will be a strategic priority for their companies in 2013 and over the next five years.

That said, more than a third (38 percent) say that although they have a Big Data solution, they lack a strategic plan to squeeze value and put feet to potential benefits.

Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the biggest obstacles to the implementation of Big Data strategy include security, followed by budget and staffing. In particular, more than a quarter, 27 percent, cited data security and risk management as a major concern, calling out the sheer volume of data, number of ways to access it and lack of security budget as top challenges when implementing Big Data projects.

Looking ahead, budget issues and challenges won’t be easily dismissed, as Big Data will all too likely spur further investment in IT. More than half of respondents expect Big Data strategies to increase their IT budgets in 2013, while nearly three out of five (57 percent) say that Big Data will increase their budgets over the next three years. Subsequently, more than four out of five (81 percent) said that all or some Big Data projects would require cloud computing capabilities, while more than half of IT managers estimate that network loads would double over the next two years.

Correspondingly, Big Data will represent an opportunity for IT to further cultivate stronger relationships across business sectors aimed at padding their bottom line and increasing revenue. Three out of four respondents (73 percent) said that the IT department would drive their Big Data strategy.  But survey respondents said other areas forwarding Big Data initiatives included finance (24 percent), research and development (20 percent), operations (20 percent), engineering (19 percent), marketing (15 percent), and sales (14 percent).

Undoubtedly, Big Data represents a massive and untold opportunity for the channel. But what that opportunity is might not yet be clear.

For now, many organizations are still wrapping their arms around both Big Data challenges and opportunities. But even more are  struggling to assess exactly what it is they have. And that means defining what constitutes Big Data before assessing the benefits and developing a resulting strategy.

The channel will inevitably be called upon on all fronts. In fact, it’s been mentioned by Channelnomics that there is a major skills gap when it comes to processing, analyzing and actually extracting actionable intelligence and business value from Big Data. And with on-staff data scientists few and far between, the channel will have unbridled opportunity to hone high-dollar skills aimed at compiling, assessing, and analyzing reams of data that will elicit their customers a critical competitive edge. And that leg up will come in almost every facet of IT, including security, mobility, business optimization, governance risk and compliance (GRC) and CRM, among others.

It comes a little shock, then, that the channel will need to ramp up its Big Data prowess in the not to distant future in all of those areas. And it might be a good idea for partners to start sharpening their skills for an anticipated uptick of highly specialized Big Data analysis services down the road.

For the time being, organizations facing initial Big Data challenges are struggling to simply get their arms around the problem. That means that for now, the biggest opportunity for the channel will be defining exactly what the problem is in order not to miss even more Big Data rewards in the future.