What Are You Gonna Do When Big Data Comes for You?

Overwhelmed by data sets that drown out insight, some business users feel like they’re down for the count. But hold on; 2012 might be the year when they get a shot at fighting back.


With apologies to Hulk Hogan, it’s a legitimate question. Most companies want to be enlightened by their data; instead, they’re besieged by it.

Part of the problem is that too many companies view big data as a storage issue, i.e., something for the IT department to handle. The IT manager thinks, “My servers are filling up quickly, even though I’ve used virtualization techniques to get more from existing hardware. Now I face the dilemma of buying more servers or renting space in the cloud.” Important considerations, but beside the point for the business user. After all, business users aren’t trying to cram more sweaters into the attic; they’re trying to find something to wear.

The good news is that 2012 might be a turning point for the scourge of big data, with an assist from business intelligence technology. Business intelligence means a lot of things to a lot of people. It was once the exclusive province of data analysis specialists, the pioneering BI vendors who had as many Ph.D.s on staff as they did coders. Now BI has grown up and gone mainstream. Vendors from every corner of the enterprise software market offer BI capabilities in their products, whether that’s supplier relationship management software or manufacturing intelligence or even CRM systems with built-in social analytics and dashboards. And more will do the same in 2012. Couple that with advances in in-memory technology, which serves up business insight at the speed of, well, business, and the tables are really starting to turn.

If you want some hope for your battle with big data in 2012, picture Hulk Hogan, prone on the canvas, the referee dropping his hand to test for signs of life. The arm thuds against the mat once, then twice. On the third test the arm comes alive, muscles tensed, vitality coursing through the veins. What are you gonna do, big data…

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