Big data is a big but young market

A recent survey by Forrester found that 7% of IT executives and 9% of business leaders feel they have gained a true return on investment from big data. That means there’s a lot more business can be doing to glean insights from the massive amount of data that’s potentially available to them.

A panel discussion at Interop in Las Vegas featuring a combination of startup entrepreneurs and a representative from one of the leading big data companies concluded that the big data market is still in its early days, but the opportunity is huge.

End users have the ability to gain new levels of detail about their current operations, and tailor their products and services based on actual data that can help them make business decisions. A growing industry around big data analytics, data storage and data visualization tools is gradually growing as well to support these new use cases. “The market is evolving, but it’s still complex and expensive,” says Bruno Aziza, vice president of marketing for big data startup SiSense, a maker of cloud-delivered business intelligence software for analyzing big data. “Businesses are starting to take control of the issue and figure out how they can use it.”

The buzz about big data is being fueled by a variety of factors. Two of the biggest are the explosion of data available to companies and the maturation of data storage and analysis platforms. The Internet of things (IoT) represents a world where almost any type of device is connected to some sort of network, allowing it to create real-time data. Perhaps the biggest-name platform for handling this data is Hadoop, an open source distributed computing architecture that excels in handling massive data sets.

These two trends — a massive increase in the amount of data available to businesses, and a platform for handling it — has “democratized” big data, Aziza says. The type of data analytics that used to only be available to the biggest companies in the world can now be done by small companies. The rise of cloud-delivered services, like SiSense’s plus the continued drop in the price to store information, combined with a management platform like Hadoop to manage it, means more businesses are holding on to more data.

“If I can store data at a commodity price, it starts to make sense to do it,” Aziza says. “Data has value over time. In the past, I may say, ‘I don’t know if I’ll have a need in the future for that data.'” Now, with platforms like Hadoop, customers can save the data in case they find a use case for it down the line. Having all that data, plus a platform to analyze it, means companies can run queries based on a whole set of data, instead of before just taking a subset of data to analyze.