When every expert and research firm released end-of-the-year lists regarding the top IT trends of 2012, big data analytics seemingly made all of them. But is the technology really as widespread and popular as the public perception has led people to believe?
According to a Gartner study from March, it is. Four in five IT decision-makers have either adopted big data tools, or plan to do so by the end of 2013. Considering the fact that the technology only became widely available about a year ago, that's a pretty remarkable ascension.
"The management and leveraging of information for competitive advantage is driving growth in markets associated with big data and analytics," said Henry Morris, IDC's senior vice president for worldwide software, services and executive advisory research.
A separate report from IDC found that worldwide software expenditures experienced a 3.6 percent year-over-year increase in 2012, with big data among the top three driving forces (cloud computing and data analytics were the other two). The application development and deployment sector, which includes big data, grew faster than any other software-related market, according to the study.
There are a number of factors that have led to big data's rapid rise in popularity, one of which certainly has to be its versatility. In the past, most software tools and packages have only been able to fulfill specific objectives. What makes big data so valuable is that it has a number of capabilities that can be customized to meet each organization's specific needs.
"Business and IT executives regularly say that information is one of their company's greatest assets," said Doug Laney, research vice president at Gartner. "The application of formal information valuation models will allow IT, information management and business leaders to make better-informed decisions on information management (IM), enrichment, security, risks, purchasing, collection, usage, bartering, productization and disposal."
A recent SiliconANGLE blog post outlined several of big data's innovative capabilities, including:
- Warehousing: As the cloud, mobile devices, social media and other new platforms produce unprecedented amounts of data, traditional silos have failed to keep up. Big data tools, on the other hand, can store and organize massive amounts of information with ease.
- Enhancing security: Where many traditional cybersecurities tools have failed, big data is stepping in to fill that void. In particular, the technology has proven to be highly effective when it comes to fraud prevention and identifying breaches quickly.
- Improving operations: Big data has the ability to project the return on investment for certain technologies, thus allowing a company to manage its budget more effectively.
The big data market doesn't project to slow down anytime soon. Based on early reports, the technology's versatility has allowed it to live up to the hype.