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Big Data: Where is the Real Opportunity?


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Who needs Big Data? What benefits can organisations realistically achieve with Big Data? What else required for success? What are the opportunities for players in this space? In this paper, Cartesian …

Who needs Big Data? What benefits can organisations realistically achieve with Big Data? What else required for success? What are the opportunities for players in this space? In this paper, Cartesian explores these questions surrounding Big Data.

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  • 1. Big Data: Where Is the Real Opportunity? By Susan Simmons, Susannah Hawkins and Tim Heal Much has been said about the benefits of Big Data. How those benefits can be realised is less well understood. In this viewpoint we consider who actually needs Big Data (and who doesn’t), the drivers of adoption, which factors will determine the benefits organisations can realistically achieve, what else beyond technology is required for successful execution, and finally what opportunities there are for players in this new space. August 2012
  • 2. Cartesian: Big Data – Where Is the Real Opportunity? Copyright © 2014 The Management Network Group, Inc. d/b/a Cartesian. All rights reserved. 1 The Promise of Big Data “Big Data” is one of the many buzzwords of 2012. The continual global expansion of digital data and availability of new technologies for storing, managing and processing this data, is fuelling growth in the new and lucrative market of Big Data technologies. The term “Big Data” usually applies to the set of technologies that enable the management and analysis of data which satisfies one or more of three commonly accepted properties, namely the “3 V’s”: Volume, Velocity and Variety. In volume alone the numbers are staggering: every day 2.5 quintillion (1018 ) bytes of data is generated globally.1 The rate of growth shows no sign of slowing, with the volume of business data doubling about every 1.2 years.2 Velocity refers to the need to extract, move and analyse data at ever more aggressive timescales or frequencies. Two years ago, 5 exabytes would flow through the Internet in a single month. Today the equivalent volume is 21 exabytes.3 Variety is the third property of Big Data: it is inherently messy, lacks the same level of structure as traditional datasets, and demands a more sophisticated approach to its analysis. So- called “unstructured data” accounts for 90% of enterprise data and its growth is accelerating.4 The growing demand for technologies that can cope with this data explosion has unsurprisingly led to speculation on the associated revenue opportunity. Figure 1 shows that there is little consensus on how large the market is today, let alone in five years from now. This variation is the result of uncertainty on a number of factors. Firstly, which companies will play (and win) in this space? Key categories include traditional SIs; cloud providers (at the software, platform and infrastructure levels); pure play database companies; service providers, and analytics companies. Secondly, business models are nascent. Will customers be paying: for integration with company systems; per TB / CPU cycle on a cloud model; per hour of “Data Scientist” time; or for access to analytics software? Despite this natural uncertainty, the aggressive forecasts are supported by the investment activity of providers, namely leading global systems integrators and database software providers, and customers, namely enterprise and government. 1 2 3 4 Figure 1: Forecasted Global Big Data Revenue
  • 3. Cartesian: Big Data – Where Is the Real Opportunity? Copyright © 2014 The Management Network Group, Inc. d/b/a Cartesian. All rights reserved. 2 For example, in April this year, IBM announced the acquisition of Varicent and Vivisimo, two separate companies specialising in big data access and analysis tools. According to Steve Mills, IBM’s senior vice president for software and systems, IBM has spent about $14B over the past five years buying analytics software companies that “help their customers make sense of big data”. On the buy side, the US government has also demonstrated interest, announcing in March a $200M R&D investment to improve tools and techniques to “access, organize and glean discoveries from huge volumes of digital data”. Drivers of Adoption Several factors are driving growth in the market for Big Data. Firstly, the 3 V’s are a universal phenomenon for business, not just something large enterprises must tackle. Businesses of all sizes, sectors and location are generating more and more customer and behavioural data. Greater automation is driving increased internal product and process data. With growth in M2M, sensors in remote devices will generate a continually expanding stream of data. Secondly, the continued adoption of on-demand cloud services is enabling wider access to more specialised software and tools. Cloud-based services such as Amazon’s EC2 Elastic Map Reduce allow companies to experiment with datasets and computing methods that would loosely be termed Big Data, without having to commit to significant infrastructure, software or human costs. Database as a Service in its purest sense is still tiny compared to the wider market, but the overall impetus of the move to the cloud will help to drive spending in Big Data. Thirdly, the Business Information and Analytics markets are also growing in their own right. Major IT vendors are increasing sales and marketing efforts on business analytics and BI tools, which in turn is leading to increased awareness of, and demand for, technologies which can better organise and understand organisational data. Benefits Much has been said about the benefits of Big Data. We identify three broad categories of revenue opportunities: 1. Revenue from the data itself. Revenue from selling the data or related insights to a third party, such as data monetization as practiced by companies such as Nielsen. 2. Market or customer insight that drives revenue directly. This would include insight that improves the ability of a company to market and upsell its products, or specialised technology that enables superior financial trading performance using, for example, sentiment analysis. 3. Insight that informs a key business decision. Examples include deciding whether to prioritise operations of a particular business line, enter a new market or develop a new product.
  • 4. Cartesian: Big Data – Where Is the Real Opportunity? Copyright © 2014 The Management Network Group, Inc. d/b/a Cartesian. All rights reserved. 3 The second and third categories are arguably more significant than the first, but achieving these benefits will always to an extent rely more on human ingenuity and data interpretation than next-generation technologies. On the cost side, there are also opportunities to manage and control the bottom line: 1. Process efficiencies: Analysis of data on areas such as manufacturing performance can yield insights which can lead to cost reduction. 2. Forecasting: Better management of the supply chain, movement of products, inventories, and prediction of demand will both expose and help to prevent cost inefficiencies. 3. Maintenance and fault prevention: Companies can monitor both internal infrastructure, and external products being used by the customer, to anticipate faults, proactively maintain and replace parts and products, and ultimately reduce costs associated with support, dissatisfaction and operational downtime. There may be new types of financial benefit which companies can achieve as the technology matures. Big Data Customer Demand In the short to medium term, Big Data is unlikely to be a mass market technology for businesses in general. The demand for Big Data is partly driven by size (think large enterprise vs. one-man-band), partly by function (e.g. financial vs. media), and partly by attitude towards technology (early adopter vs. laggard). Adoption of related technologies can inform the uptake of Big Data. For example, BI use is well penetrated in enterprises, less so in mid-market businesses, and poorly in SMB / SOHO. It is perhaps optimistic to envisage that Big Data will be more strongly adopted than BI in any of these segments. In fact existing BI and data analysis tools may be entirely sufficient to realise some of the previously discussed benefits. Much analysis is not time-critical; one-off or infrequent analyses on large static datasets can be performed, for example, overnight. To give another example, advertisers may be more inclined to base decisions on straightforward properties of the target audience (monthly spending, location, age, gender, etc.) than to invest in complex customer analysis that may not yield incremental returns. Another consideration is that most extraneous data that is not currently stored or analysed may be treated as such because there may not be any value in analysing it. Even when there is value in the data, the incremental benefits which that analysis can unlock must be both greater than the investment made in Big Data technologies, or the relative profitability of the exercise when using existing analysis tools. Finally, the demands of successfully executing Big Data initiatives should be viewed in the context of internal capabilities. Many organisations struggle to store, organise, extract and analyse the full set of traditional data that is available to them. That is not to say that these organisations could never employ Big Data, but rather that Big Data is not the answer to existing issues with data analysis, and that internal competencies need to be evaluated and perhaps enhanced to maximise return on investment. In summary, while the range of potential benefits in collecting and analysing Big Data is vast, the selection of use cases which make economic or practical sense is much more limited. Analysis which does not yield
  • 5. Cartesian: Big Data – Where Is the Real Opportunity? Copyright © 2014 The Management Network Group, Inc. d/b/a Cartesian. All rights reserved. 4 direct or indirect revenue or cost improvements is academic and not investment worthy. The enlarged range of analyses unlocked by new Big Data technologies may not be practical or useful to perform. Defining Need and Success More positively, there are big opportunities for Big Data providers which can target the right customers and right use cases, and enable successful execution of the technology within the organisation. But vendors must articulate to the market what Big Data is and what it is not. Big Data is not an off-the-shelf solution which can suck in messy data and spit out valuable insights. It is one component of a larger business and technology process that demands significant effort and alignment from multiple parts of an organisation: Figure 2: Big Data Internal Process This effort must be coordinated and sponsored across multiple stakeholders within the organisation. Where profitability is a barrier, there are opportunities for innovative cloud providers to leverage new technologies to reduce hurdle rates for return on investment in analytics. Such providers should be thinking about testing the value of cloud technologies and processes in Big Data and how this can help win share. Conclusions  To achieve the forecast revenue opportunity in Big Data, vendors and service providers will need to go beyond applying Big Data technologies to existing analysis. There is a significant opportunity in identifying and enabling entirely new use cases.  Identifying the new use case and validating the requirement for new technology is only half the battle. Organisations must have a clear plan and objectives, be able to execute a complex technological process, justify ROI to senior management with a robust business case, and attempt to track success.
  • 6. Cartesian: Big Data – Where Is the Real Opportunity? Copyright © 2014 The Management Network Group, Inc. d/b/a Cartesian. All rights reserved. 5  The market for Big Data is nascent, and despite the buzz, organisations are still figuring out how to best leverage new technologies. For Big Data to deliver Big Benefits, both buyers and sellers will need to enable an end-to-end process to solve a business issue, of which the technology itself is just one component.  There are roles for various players, particularly service providers to fill gaps as the ecosystem expands. Major opportunities exist in reducing the TCO of Big Data through innovative cloud models, and aggregating third-party Big Data technologies into a simple, accessible platform with a real value proposition that businesses can understand.
  • 7. Cartesian is a specialist consulting firm of industry experts, focused exclusively on the communications, technology and digital media sector. For over 20 years, Cartesian has advised clients in strategy development and assisted them in execution against their goals. Our unique portfolio of professional services and managed solutions are tailored to the specific challenges faced by executives in these fast- moving industries. Combining strategic thinking and practical experience, we deliver superior results. For further information, please contact us at