In 2012, big data came to a head as its value in improving business operations were realized, and a shift began with applying an increased use of analytics to understand, interact with and serve customers.
Yet, this is a new era – one that’s completely changing the type of information businesses collect and analyze to get closer to customers and impact business outcomes. We’re gathering data from everywhere, from purchase transaction records to cell phone GPS signals. Companies are even using analytics on social media sites in an effort to interpret human behavior, such as the presence of sarcasm in people’s posts, as well as positive and negative expressions.
Additionally, big data is driving new opportunities. There is a growing demand for people with the skills and knowledge to manage and understand new data. In 2012, new big data analytics university curriculums launched and students began taking courses to learn data management and analytics in order to prepare for careers in these capacities. Data scientists and executives began re-thinking how they interpret information and draw on new insights.
In 2013, big data will continue to grow in relevance and expand across organizations in literally every industry. IBM’s 2012 Tech Trends Survey of over 1,200 IT and business decision makers found that 54 percent of respondents have adopted business analytics technologies with 55 percent planning to further increase analytics spending to enhance their competitiveness.
Based on the rise of big data in 2012, I have a few projections for 2013:
Big data will span uncharted territories
We will begin to see expanded use of big data in industries such as healthcare, retail, and energy. The healthcare industry will see a significant increase in big data usage to meet the needs of personalized medicine. In the retail space, big data, especially from social media sources, will play a huge part in understanding consumer buying habits and sales insights. And the energy industry will continue to launch smart grids and use new big data and analytics technologies to create more efficient renewable energy strategies.
Big data will extend beyond IT departments
We know there’s enough data to go around; in fact, IDC estimates the big data market will reach $50.7 billion by 2016. Because of this projected growth, the IT department alone cannot tackle big data. Everyone inside an organization will lend a hand in interpreting it.
Just as marketing departments began to employ big data to better connect with customers in 2012, big data will begin to expand into new lines of business in 2013. We expect to see it in spaces such as procurement, where analytics will be used to gain insights on supplier risk and performance, as well as invoice data compared to contract terms. We will also use big data in finance, to more efficiently collect and cross-reference financial data sets against analyst reports, economic market data, financial reports, news stories, board notes and company balance sheet. And the human resources team will use big data as a way to gain predictive insights on marketplace developments and employee preferences, as well as employee retention rates and risk management.
Investments in IT will shift
As the use of big data expands across all industries and departments, more specialized analytics technologies will emerge, such as the appliance approach for specialized analytics workloads. This strategy will allow business managers to more quickly identify business value from big data, which will help alleviate the siloed approach that has existed too long in businesses. This will allow lines of business departments to share and compare data and identify additional insights not previously known.
The relational database will shift
The relational database is now being put into appliances, mobile devices and the cloud. In fact, Gartner estimates that, by 2016, 50 percent of data will be stored in the cloud. Traditional database technologies are evolving to perform large-scale transactions previously only possible in a mainframe environment. Operational data management is also being performed in new environments such as connected networks and smart grids.
The ‘data scientist’ will play many roles
As big data continues to expand in 2013, the role of the data scientist will continue to evolve as well. Our next generation workers have already begun taking classes and experimenting with big data and analytics in 2012.
In 2013, the industry will continue to push for data scientists that are trained to work across different disciplines. The new data scientist may stem from this next generation of workers being trained for the new cross-discipline approach in college. Or, today's current employees (an application developer or a database administrators, someone who already possess mathematics, statistical, and computer science skills) may partake in training to better understand various business departments, for example marketing, or procurement. The new data scientist will have a keen eye and ear to link IT and business to help the organization better understand and tackle big data.
Looking forward a few years, big data is certainly on a track to continue its growth. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be a 24 percent increase in demand for professionals with management analysis skills over the next eight years. The continued development and growth of big data will prove to be a great contribution to businesses world-wide. Technology advancements are creating new job opportunities for more creative and forward thinking data scientists, and moving forward, organizations will continue to leverage the insights found from big data to deliver more satisfying customer experiences.