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Go Big Data or go home

Go Big Data or go home 

It’s no secret that businesses are data-producing powerhouses, be them multinational corporations or SMBs based in small towns. They collect data on everything from market research results, to product performance, to information on their customers. Every bit of data, regardless of size, can somehow help enterprises take the next steps towards improving their offerings, or building a better rapport with their clientele.

A question of agility

Adoption of Big Data and analytics into the corporate environment is the result of the desire to increase agility in an attempt to stay ahead. Change can happen in an instant today, and those who aren’t riding the wave of agility face the prospect of being left behind.

“If you think of the traditional waterfall approach to engineering, you’re doing things in large blocks, and you have a hard time estimating the amount of work ahead of you. It’s also very difficult to test it, iterate and get feedback,” says David Dietrich, director of Big Data Solutions for EMC.

Speed also plays a role in the advancement towards agile innovation. Herbert Spencer famously coined the term “survival of the fittest” as a means of using his economical background to respond to Charles Darwin’s biological theories. But it is as just applicable to the corporate environment as it is to human evolution.

“The idea of innovating in agile ways (involves) using agile technology to do things faster,” Dietrich says. “If you’re doing things like dev ops, you’re getting feedback from the system almost instantly, and you’re getting QA and developers touching this (issue) at a faster rate. This will help you to learn from this and adapt quickly.”

Big Data and the third platform

Adding Big Data operations into the business equation goes hand-in-hand with the shift to what many experts refer to as the “third platform” of IT. Whereas the first platform was the mainframe computer and the second was the rise of the PC, the third platform is centered on mobility, social networking, cloud computing and associated services, and Big Data and analytics.

According to EMC, enterprises are currently on the second platform, and are trying to make the jump to the third. In order to assist with that process, EMC created the concept of Platform 2.5, which serves as a stepping stone from the second platform to the third.

From a Big Data perspective, the third platform involves taking a closer look at changes within the world of IT, and subsequently finding ways to shape them.

“The third platform is all about identifying what’s changing and how to influence it as it’s happening,” says Dietrich. “It would involve feedback you’d be getting in real time from streaming data and analytics, and trying to react to it to influence what the outcome is as it’s happening.”

Challenging CIOs

While the shift to the third platform could prove to be beneficial, it has created some “pain points” for CIOs, the driving forces behind the collection, management and analysis of enterprise data.

“The CIOs are already challenged, and for me, that’s mostly around managing IT shops, keeping things up-to-date, managing them, improving them, and (performing) support for an entire enterprise,” Dietrich explains.

Big Data operations come with a steep learning curve, and CIOs often don’t have the time to approach them as a result. One alternative to this is acquiring new talent to learn the ropes and work alongside the CIOs to gain additional insight into this area.

“I think with Big Data, there are new systems, technologies and skills, and a new paradigm if you’re going to take advantage of them. Those are things CIOs may or may not be well-versed in, and likely don’t have time to deal with squarely,” says Dietrich.

“They need new people to deal with them. Even if they do have the time and expertise to deal with them, it’s going to cause a tremendous amount of disruption and change to the way they currently operate.”

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