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Big Data in the Boardroom

By   /  July 18, 2013  /  1 Comment

boardroom x300by Ezekiel James

Historically, data based projects begin, and sometimes end in the IT department with other departments giving their input throughout this process.  This isn’t a major revelation, but as Big Data begins to take on a life of its own – that is, as C-level executives view it as a valuable organizational asset – some say Big Data integration will originate in the boardroom.

According to Yves de Montcheuil, Vice President of Marketing for Talend, a company specializing in simplifying complex data integration of all types, C-level executives are primed to move towards the rapid adoption phase when it comes to Big Data. This is not based on a superficial analysis. Talend actually did some real world digging to get to the bottom of this trend.

Actually, Talend recently surveyed 231 businesses. According to de Montcheuil and company, the survey was an overwhelming indication that organizations – particularly on the executive level – are increasingly moving towards adopting Big Data projects. In fact, the study indicated that a large chunk of executives are actually suggesting these projects. This means that there is an increasing shift away from the traditional method data project development, to a new era where ideation is starting in the board room. In other words, according to de Montecheuil and the folks at Talend, Big Data project management will rapidly begin to move downstream.

The Current State of Enterprise Big Data Adoption: Open Source Maturation

This shift didn’t or won’t happen overnight, but it is currently being fueled by the rapid maturation of Open Source technologies. With the introduction of new Open Source options through platforms like Hadoop, as well as the rise of NoSQL, the fears that many C-level executives had about Big Data adoption – from an Open Source standpoint – are rapidly disappearing. Talend’s de Montcheuil goes on to say that this is partly due to the lack of propaganda surrounding Open Source technology.  That is, enterprise-class software vendors are no longer downplaying the long-term benefits of Open Source technology. This frees up board room executives to embrace the new Big Data trends with little reluctance about uncertainties surrounding open source solutions.

In short, Hadoop has become enterprise friendly. How did Hadoop become enterprise friendly? It rapidly matured into a stable and reliable platform for managing and deploying incredibly complex databases. The bottom line is that Hadoop’s maturation cycle has accelerated at a breakneck speed in recent years, and the enterprise has taken notice.

Five Major Challenges for Big Data Adoption in the Board Room

If it seems overly simplistic that executives will embrace Big Data initiatives simply because Open Source technology has matured quickly then you’re probably onto something. To be clear, Hadoop has and will completely shift how we view Big Data solutions, and how they will be executed in a wide range of Data Management and deployment applications. So it’s not that the Open Source culture hasn’t influenced how Big Data solutions are perceived  – Open Source Big Data is becoming incredibly valuable to the enterprise – but rather that there are some key challenges that get in the way of full adoption from an executive perspective. Let’s take a quick look at five of these major challenges that executives face.

  1. Poor Value Assessment: For better or worse, most C-level executives are not Data Management and technology experts. In fact, they’re usually the opposite.  They do not have a working understanding of Big Data technologies, and may have a hard time grasping the real-world value of Big Data for their organization. This is where savvy IT leaders and managers come into play. They should be able to come in and clean up the murky waters of the boardroom’s perception of Big Data. The bottom line is that data is no longer a purely utilitarian tool for IT professionals manage. Data is a deeply integrated piece of every organization’s value proposition.
  2. Security: Security is perhaps one of the most pressing concerns for executives, especially as they begin to piece together the Big Data puzzle. However, the security problem is not just limited to keeping these massive datasets private. More often than not, the key security problems within the Big Data environment have to do with data integrity. Beyond keeping data sets private, organizations – especially at the executive level – need to be assured that their data will be protected, stable and accurate regardless of the dynamic environment in which they are managed.
  3. Storage: With Big Data – especially as organizations move towards non-structured databases through NoSQL technology – there are multiple types of data that need to be stored. So executives need to understand just how this data should be stored, and that it is very possible to efficiently store Big Data for a reasonable cost.
  4. Data Management: Big Data Management opens up a can of worms that will be difficult to wrap their heads around, and for no other reason than the concept is fairly high level. It will be important for IT managers to drive home the fact that while Big Data processing is complex (datasets may be used and re-used for different applications and in a wide range of environments), that Big Data is manageable with the right infrastructure in place.
  5. Return on Investment (ROI): Depending on the size and immediate or long-term need of an organization, implementing Big Data solutions can be costly. What’s more is that measuring the Big Data ROI is incredibly difficult, particularly since much of Big Data is in the very early stages of large-scale adoption. According to a recent survey by IDG Research Group in partnership with Kapow Software, there is quite a bit of disillusionment surrounding Big Data adoption. Out of more than 200 IT leaders and executives, the majority (right around 85%) of business leaders believed that Big Data can help organizations make better, data-driven decisions. On the other side of this survey revealed that the remainder of the respondents had mixed feelings from an ROI perspective. As executives explore the possibilities of Big Data, this will be among the most crucial objectives to overcome – that the value of Big Data can be realized in a short amount of time.

Boardroom Analytics: Where Big Data is Headed

On the future of Big Data in the boardroom, Talend’s Yves de Montcheuil goes on to say, “Let’s not forget that there is non-Big Data.” In other words, organizations should not focus solely on big data projects. Adopting Big Data on the executive level should be an integrative conversation. Putting all of your eggs in one data management basket is usually a recipe for disaster on the enterprise side of things.

The bottom line is that as the Big Data world matures, the inherent value of these solutions will become apparent to each enterprise organization’s executive level. This will also mean that much of the Big Data adoption cycle will originate from the boardroom.

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