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Big Data – Will It Change Everything?

Short Takes...on Analytics

Posted by Richard Penkoski, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP


“Big Data.” By now, you know it’s big news – perhaps bigger, even, than the name suggests. Big data refers not only to the historic influx of structured and non-structured data from non-traditional sources, but also to the big questions facing organizations wading into big data waters. Questions like: How do we store, analyze and harness this data? Will it really change how we understand and respond to customers? And how do we ready the organization to take advantage of this data?

One way businesses are tackling the big data challenge is by moving away from traditional IT environments in favor of more flexible architectures. New, hybrid IT environments can leverage advances in cloud computing, can sustain multiple data types and volumes and are designed to scale. These changes are important to accommodate the three dimensions of big data:

  • Velocity:  The frequency of data generation, including batch, near-time, real-time or streams
  • Variety:  The sources of data classified as structured, unstructured, or semi-structured.
  • Volume:  The amount of data -- that is measured in terabytes today, but could rise into petabytes, exabytes and even zettabytes in the future.

Although the opportunites presented by big data are substantial, the customer insights that can be gleaned are often worth the change. Big data represents a largely untapped source of product, customer and market intelligence. And while infrastructure is critical to leveraging this data, other factors are equally important.

Take talent, for example. Big data deployments require new specialist competencies -- statistical and analytical - to augment advanced IT/programming skills. Cultural issues also need attention. Attitudes that paint open source big data technologies as unreliable may limit big data deployments to exploratory uses, keeping companies from realizing big data's true capability.

Another big data challenge is risk mitigation. Privacy issues are increasingly sensitive and companies should be cautious that the in-depth collection and mining of personal and customer data does not result in compliance lapses.

There's likely no escaping big data's impact. And while big data may not change everything, it is poised to impact nearly every facet of business. Organizations that begin making the technology, staffing, risk and cultural changes required to turn big data into strategic insight will likely be ahead of their competitors.

What changes is your business making today to tap into the potential of big data?

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.

Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

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