Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are more popular than ever, a report from Siemer and Associates estimates that SaaS providers will experience a 17% growth worldwide this year, even as other segments of the software industry have slowed. Companies are increasingly turning to the Cloud for technology services, saving money while receiving levels of expertise they might not have been able to afford locally.
Businesses are interested in the same functionality for their Data Management needs. Many companies lack the ability to hire a full staff of Data Scientists, but to remain competitive, they’ll need access to the same data much larger businesses have. Through Big Data as a Service (BDaaS), small to medium businesses (SMBs) can have the benefit of Big Data without the exorbitant expense of a full-time staff member.
As Data Scientists enter the field in larger numbers, many will have a choice of employers. Some of those choices will be large and mid-sized corporations, but some will be service providers. The service providers will offer data for a fee, allowing businesses from a wide variety of industries to have access to their team of data experts.
BdaaS will be Cloud-based, with information housed on offsite servers in the same way SaaS is hosted in the Cloud. Tools like Hadoop and NoSQL can be purchased and managed by the Cloud provider and hiring certified, properly-qualified professionals will be the responsibility of the provider. This not only saves costs, but it also saves businesses the headache of ensuring staff members have the necessary skills.
Not all industries will receive identical benefits from Big Data though. While it’s highly likely all of this data will be an increasingly important part of day-to-day business, some industries stand to benefit more than ever. Here are five industries that will likely benefit most from BdaaS.
Each day, medical professionals conduct research that can cure diseases and save lives. Nowhere is the impact of Big Data more potentially profound than in the medical industry. DNA research has given scientists insight into how diseases begin and progress. Looking at overall patterns among the population is the first step toward understanding and curing such conditions as cancer, chronic migraines, cystic fibrosis, and many more.
Medicine is a complex field though, with analysts required to understand the field well enough to differentiate between different datasets. A Data Scientist working with information on Alzheimer’s Disease, for example, might be more effective in fully understanding the complexities of the disease in order to better organize data before presenting to clients. BDaaS providers who specialize in specific areas, like medicine, will likely begin to emerge as more businesses learn about the benefits of the service.
The financial services industry sees volumes of data each day pass through their servers. Transactions, customer information, location data, and more is being collected and organized by Data Analysts as part of a drive toward analytics. According to a June 2013 University of Oxford and IBM Institute for Business Value study, 71 percent of the financial services industry is using Big Data, which is an increase of 36 percent from 2011 rates.
In the survey, respondents reported that financial services firms are more interested in customer-focused analytics than learning more about products or service offerings. Like many businesses, financial businesses realize that the key to bringing in more money is learning what is likely to interest customers in a few months or years. Big Data can provide insight into trends that will answer those questions.
Large, corporate banks aren’t the only financial institutions hoping to gain access to these analytics. Small local banks and credit unions want to know about their customers, as well, but they lack the funds to pay certified Data Scientists. Through BdaaS, they can pay a monthly fee for these services, getting the benefit of insight to allow them to remain competitive.
Customer trends are essential in the retail industry, which faces the challenge of keeping up with demand. Even large corporations are realizing the benefits of BdaaS over creating an in-house team to handle the task. Seeing this need, Sears Corporation developed Metascale, a company that offers Big Data as a Service to retailers throughout the world. Metascale not only extracts and organizes data for businesses, but also consults with them on how they can use that data to solve a wide variety of business issues.
During the holiday season, a retailer could track the popularity of a holiday promotion, for instance, to determine whether it was effective or not. As the BdaaS provider combs through the data, additional analytics can be performed that shows some stores are overstaffed while others are stretched beyond their resources. Through working with a company that not only provides the data, but can consult on what that data means, the retailer’s corporate office may realize that: a) the promotion did not bring in enough business to make up for the loss in revenue the 20 percent discount provided and b) staffing needs should be addressed throughout the company.
Public entities have traditionally lacked the resources to pay six-figure salaries to employees. A full staff of Data Scientists, each commanding top-dollar salaries, is usually out of the question, especially when those salaries would be paid by taxpayers. Yet governments have always relied heavily on statistical data. In fact, they’ve been extracting data using statistical analysts and Oracle databases for years.
BDaaS can give governmental organizations access to data on a much larger scale than ever before. With governments, compliance issues are always a factor, presenting a challenge to BDaaS providers. For a provider working with healthcare data, for instance, HIPAA compliance will set restrictions on who works with the data and how it is shared with clients. But for a BDaaS provider, landing even one lucrative government contract can provide a big boost in income.
Like government organizations, non-profits are unable to shell out the money for in-house Big Data services. Yet non-profits can benefit from data in two major ways. By researching large population sets, charitable organizations can improve their fundraising efforts by targeting those who are most likely to give. They can also use the data to retarget visitors to their website, reaching citizens who are more likely to participate in a campaign based on their interests.
But the second, and perhaps most important, way non-profits can use Big Data is through extracting data on the very populations they’re helping. An organization that provides water to remote regions of the water, for instance, could track which areas are most in need and follow the success of each of its campaigns. This data can then be presented as part of fundraising efforts for maximum impact.
BDaaS providers can leverage their own resources to provide this data to non-profit organizations of all sizes throughout the world. By outsourcing this work to BDaaS providers, these organizations will save money while having access to skilled Data Scientists utilizing the best technology available today.
Data Science is an evolving field, but with a shortage of qualified workers, many businesses are unable to set up their own in-house shops. BDaaS providers can focus on locating and nurturing new Data Scientists, allowing businesses of all types to focus on what they do best. As new Data Scientists emerge from college, they’ll have the option of working for one large corporation or working for a large BDaaS provider, where they’ll be able to work with a wide variety of datasets on a daily basis. Some Data Scientists will actually prefer this diversity, providing new challenges each day.
Still, by specializing in specific industries, BDaaS can address the need to have Data Scientists who both know and understand data analysis while also having a subject matter expertise. The latter can be learned over time through attending industry conferences and working with clients on a daily basis. But, as businesses make the shift to BDaaS providers, it’s important to choose a provider who places security and compliance as a top priority, especially for businesses that deal with medical and financial data.