Is your business infrastructure strong enough to carry the weight of Big Data?


Analyzing and deciphering information from the endless ocean of Big Data is one of today’s great IT challenges. How can businesses effectively deal with such number?

To really understand the magnitude of Big Data, we must relate it to our everyday lives, calculate the real impact it’s having and will continue to have on the way we live and work.

In my opinion, Big Data isn’t a story that needs selling, it’s one of those rare technological advances that affect the entire planet in an unprecedented timeframe. Furthermore, it’s unstoppable. In the words of IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty ‘Big Data is the next natural resource – promising to do in the 21st Century what steam, electricity and oil did for the 20th.

The immediate concern to address is the way we store, manage, access and benefit from this data. To put things into perspective, I’m going to use this post as a monitoring beacon for the generating of data.

Every two days, we generate as much data as the entire world did from the beginning of time up until 2003. If you’re a parent of a new born, your child would likely have generated more data than you and your spouse combined within 48 hours of its birth. Now we can truly begin to understand the volume of data we’re dealing with on a daily basis and your business needs to store this data, analyze, understand, and use it.

I’ve been writing this article for around 10 minutes now. In that time, YouTubers have uploaded 4,800 hours of new video, 5710 new websites have been created, and Google has received 20,000,000 search engine queries*. All that data serves a purpose to your business, your customers and your bottom line results.

Today’s solutions grant you the opportunity to analyze this data and make instant decisions based on real-time insights. This is necessary for a number of reasons. One: traditional IT systems aren’t able to support, mine, decipher, and transform today’s volumes of data. Two: you don’t have a choice whether or not to embrace this trend; as I mentioned previously, it’s unstoppable. Making the right infrastructure choice is critical in this field. Data cannot be categorized by size; Big Data and Analytics deal with the very large and the very small. One tweet is a new piece of data that can generate endless amounts of new data, and influence existing data. This connection between the macro and micro is something that IBM is working tirelessly to address. Our customers have already made this need apparent. Seven out of ten businesses believe infrastructure drives business strategy and results, and 60 percent of CIOs in the Middle East alone believe Big Data and analytics enable better decision making. The two fit hand in hand.

I’ve been writing this post for 15 minutes now. In that time, online shoppers have spent nearly US$4,081,050, Instagram users have posted 54,000 photos and Apple has enjoyed 705,000 app downloads. The data ocean continues to expand.

When addressing these data concerns from an infrastructure perspective, I believe there are three key imperatives that must be taken into consideration, above all else, before a business can settle on a solution.

The first is: Access. Allowing your employees to have trustworthy access to all the relevant information they need, no matter where it lives or what it does. Whatever the data is, if it’s not relevant to you, or presented in a timely and efficient way, it won’t be used. Ease of access is a critical factor.

Secondly: Speed. This is the obvious one in my view – receiving, analyzing, presenting, and distributing results from data in nano-seconds could be the competitive difference. Rapid analysis is a game-changer in itself. Take the world of sports as an example; a football coach can access real-time information on any given player on an iPad during a game. He can analyze that information, process it and use it to make changes or discuss insights with his staff and team as the game is happening. Post-match analysis therefore becomes redundant. Making decisions and changing tactics in the most astute ways is the future.

And lastly: Availability. All this data is circulating, being crushed, analyzed, and examined. But the volumes of data in today’s world pose a serious challenge for efficient execution of those tasks. Making the right data available at the right time is another serious game-changer. If your IT infrastructure can help you to reliably analyze data, in real-time, to make smarter and faster decisions, then you’re setting down the right path.

I’m now 30 minutes into this article and since the beginning of this discussion on Big Data, brands and organizations on Facebook have received more than 1,041,660 ‘likes’, Tweeters have sent more than 3,000,000 tweets, and email users have sent a staggering 6,125,000,010 emails. More interestingly, these figures have been influenced directly by you and your customers. That’s a lot of responsibility – is your organization ready to carry it?

For more information on Big Data and Analytics IT infrastructure, read our business value reports here.

* Source: DOMO/Column Five Media: Data Never Sleeps

This article was writtern by , Vice President, Hardware Sales, IBM Systems, Middle East and Africa

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