Four Steps to Success with Big Data

August 9, 2011
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big data opportunities and challenges photo (big data)

Author: Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team

big data opportunities and challenges photo (big data)

Author: Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team

Benjamin Woo (@benwoony), program vice president of worldwide storage systems research and the voice of Big Data for IDC (@IDC) set the tone for a Big Data focus that’s all about “volume, variety, velocity and value” at the Implementing Information Infrastructure Symposium (#IIIS) in Sydney, Australia last week.

Defining Big Data

First, Woo defined the term Big Data as simply the “ability to derive value through technology.” In a recap of his presentation from ARN, we learn that “the concept [of Big Data] is not new.” What is new is the way we are using it, says Woo.

“The newness that we are talking about here is related to economics, accessibility to technologies and to the fact that we have put together all the data sources in the world,” says Woo.

Big Data Lends a Competitive Edge

While he predicts Big Data affecting all business operations on a daily basis, he says the areas most affected are “decision support and automation interface, analytics and discovery, data organization and management as well as infrastructure.

That’s huge. And companies that don’t focus on it could lose a competitive edge, as we’ve written before on the blog.

The Four Vs of Big Data

Woo recommended four keys or “four Vs” to making Big Data work for your organization:

  1. Volume – Big companies produce Big Data. But it’s important for companies of all sizes to embrace it. Larger enterprises have to do it more quickly because competitors “are more likely to be doing the same thing.”
  2. Variety – The more sources, the better, Woo says. He recommends collecting data from as many social services (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and less-considered sources including mobile devices and bar codes as well as good ole data entry.  This will become even more important as companies adopt a social business model.
  3. Velocity – The key here is for businesses to clean up data and deal with it quickly through “analytics and discovery work.” In a Computerworld wrap up of his presentation, he says if “IT staff looked at data analytics, they could start bringing those into the organization and make them part of the process of IT.”As Marcus Borba (@marcusborba) says in his hot 2011 BI trends updates, “Increasing demands for decision support and operational BI are forcing IT organizations to come up with faster solutions “speed of change can make a traditional BI project obsolete before it’s even rolled out, so agility is becoming the new buzzword in some companies.”
  4. Value– Acting on data is how we create opportunities and derive value, says Woo.”Big Data is all about supporting decisions, so when you are looking at decisions that can have billions of dollars worth of impact, you are going to want as much information as possible to support your case,” he says.

What’s Next for Big Data?

Woo believes the largest challenge facing companies is knowing what to do with Big Data. He says the ultimate action item is to “simplify infrastructure and architectures” and to spend time “making the CEO and customer happy.” And that includes using Big Data to feed them information.

Next Steps

Stay tuned to the Spotfire blog for more coverage on Big Data this week and follow the TDWI World Conference on Twitter this week (#TDWI).

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team