Manoj BhoolaManoj Bhoola

According to a recent global survey done by Avanade, the investments companies are making to manage big data are paying off. The report shows that 84% of respondents believe big data helps them make better business decisions. Added to this, over half of global companies (59%) say more employees than ever before are involved in making decisions as a result of more widely available company data.

“Big data has become everyone’s business and it has gained a top spot on the agenda of business leaders for the real value it has begun to create,” says , Avanade SA’s country manager. “Today, the technologies used to leverage big data for business purposes have reached a tipping point - widespread companies and employees are able to find financial and competitive benefits from their data.”

According to , technical architect at EMC’s Greenplum division, current worldwide trends are largely focused around the use of big data for marketing reasons and risk mitigation, although locally, there is a stronger emphasis on business operations and research. “However, a big data trend that is having a significant impact everywhere at the moment is social media,” he says. “And SA is certainly not excluded here.”

Three notable trends causing companies to rethink their data management strategies, according Avanade’s report, include employee mobility (73%), cloud computing (65%) and social networking (61%).

In a recent study done by Oracle about how companies are coping with the deluge of data coming into their organisations, respondents note they see the biggest data growth areas coming from customer information (48%), operations (34%) and sales and marketing (33%).

Says VP and country manager of Oracle SA, : “This study shows that up to 14% of a company’s revenue is lost because enterprises are challenged to manage and analyse data, which grows exponentially as we speak. Enterprises can get ahead of the game by using these challenges as catalysts for company-wide strategic change. Through industry-specific applications and technologies, enterprises can transprise form data into measurable business benefits.”

Avanade’s survey further demonstrated that 95% of businesses do not consider data analysts a part of their IT staff. “Instead, companies are now distributing that expertise to line-of-business groups throughout the company. The majority of respondents (58%) report data management is now embedded throughout their business,” explains Bhoola.

He continues, “The challenges of big data remain, but the opportunities are even greater. Business leaders are really moving from defence to offence in their data management strategies. Forward-looking companies are empowering more people across the enterprise with the tools and skills needed
to make better business decisions and ultimately, harness the power that big data promises.”

According to Turner, cloud services specifically designed for big data analysis are starting to emerge, providing platforms and tools designed to perform analytics quickly and efficiently. “Companies who recognise the importance of big data, but don’t have the resources to build the required infrastructure or acquire the necessary tools to exploit it, will benefit from considering cloud services,” he says.

Cloud models encourage access to data and provide an “elastic” pool of resources to handle massive scale, solving the problem of how to store huge data volumes and how to amass the computing resources required to manipulate it, according to Turner.

Big data may give basis for more informed decision-making, he says, but this is subject to a change in human process. “The rate of change and the speed at which updated data occurs means that by the time an end-result is acquired, it may already have changed,” concludes Turner.