Study projects big data headed toward ubiquity - what does that mean?


connected-lightwell-1Making a splash in the ocean of big data has been a top priority for many organizations in an array of industries. The cost-efficiency, advanced intelligence and real-time operating power that big data can offer businesses are inspiring many to jump in to the big data pool. However, it's important - as many organizations that rushed headlong into big data and analytics without fully readying themselves found out the hard way - to ensure that you're ready for big data, and big data is ready for you. A poorly planned leap into big data can end up doing more harm than if an enterprise hadn't explored it at all. This is especially true for companies that participate in large supply chains or are building up their omni-channel commerce effort, as organizational processes, people, culture and decisions are all impacted by big data initiatives.

Nearly three-quarters of companies getting into big data
According to a recent survey by Gartner, 73 percent of all organizations have invested or will invest in big data within the next two years. This represents a rise from the 64 percent of companies that indicated they had big data plans in 2013, and further indicates that big data efforts are in no way slowing down. Also on the rise is the number of businesses that have moved from the experimentation phase to the deployment phase, with 13 percent of enterprises surveyed having finished enough of the planning and strategy development part of their big initiatives to begin seeing how they work in execution. For those businesses still in the development phase or just ramping up their first dip into big data, the research firm stated, there can be numerous obstructions to success.

"Those with no big data plans feel the big hurdles are determining how to get value from big data, defining a strategy, leadership or organizational issues, and even still trying to understand what big data is," Gartner said. "In the planning stages, beyond determining value, the top challenges are obtaining skills and capabilities needed, defining strategy, obtaining funding and beginning to think about infrastructure issues." 

Making headway with big data
Probably the most important thing to remember with big data is that it's not going to solve anything at once - and if you think it will, it may end up not solving anything at all. As Wired contributor Jason Bloomberg recently wrote, unless a company can determine what operational points it wants to address with its data, and works in incremental steps to make satisfactory connections, the focus on big data could end up being detrimental.

"The lack of useful optimization, either because of lack of data, insufficient analytics or a simple dearth of management, will (sic) is actually a risk factor for innovation, just as excessive or misapplied optimization is," Bloomberg wrote. 

Instead of investing purely in data-collecting tools and the fanciest analytics gizmos, it makes sense for an organization to look into services and solutions that include analytics as a byproduct of a larger focus on turning operational and customer data into a smoother, more effective supply chain. This way, a company can focus on key strategy development within the framework of a focused solution, uncovering viable uses for big data insights instead of struggling to retrofit systems around troves of information.

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