Yesterday saw the publication of a global thought leadership report  – Big & Fast Data: The Rise of Insight-Driven Business

What we have found is fascinating; that big data is in fact fundamentally disrupting – but not just from a technology level; it is disrupting the whole enterprise.  
I know from my current engagements with clients that adoption is indeed increasing, along with investment levels.   Clients are taking a “fail fast, rapid proof of concept”, with data science approaches embedded from day one – they want to prove out the business value at low risk.
By “fail fast”, I am seeing multi-week proof of concepts with a business driven use case; using live or recent data and experimenting at pace. By only committing small resource levels, time-boxing the programme and moving fast, many hypothesis can be tested without significant business, budget or project risk. If 3 succeed, and 2 fail that is acceptable when you are often pushing the boundaries of big data, analytics and data science.
Reflecting on the study and my own experiences we are seeing the emergence of two key drivers that focus use case driven adoption – “Time to Insight” and “Time to Value”

  • The ability to take relevant data, analyze it quickly, and both create and action insights allows you to affect events whilst they are still happening. The “time to insight” becomes key for the business – and the more you can automate the outcome back into existing business processes, the better. Having a report that is generated in real time based on live data, that then awaits action in an inbox reduces the value of the Insight every hour it sits unused.
  • In identifying the powerful insights, the key becomes “how do I scale from POC to enterprise adoption” – if there is significant discovered value, then the ability to deploy: re-organization, technology scaling and deployment into the business allowing scale out is critical (we have moved on from the era of multi-year ERP rollouts). Time to value is becoming a Key Success Factor.

More broadly, the disruption factor to business caused by big data should be noted; three key stats leapt out for me:

  • Risk to the relevancy of IT in the Big Data world: The high level of frustration with the existing IT infrastructure and processes. Over a third (36%) say that their business unit has circumvented IT in order to carry out the data analytics it requires. IT needs to adopt new skills and methods at pace
  • External threats: 2/3rds of business leaders say that big data is changing traditional business boundaries and crucially – that it is enabling non-traditional providers to move into their industry – so a lateral threat from non-traditional competitors
  • The need for internal change: Businesses are re-organizing and restructuring, often around the data itself, and are creating senior leadership roles focused on their data – more than 40% of businesses are doing this.

I’ll close with two quotes from EMC (and my thanks for their support in creating this report) spring to mind; one from nearly 10 years ago, one from a few months ago.
“Continue to innovate and don’t be afraid to disrupt yourself” Joe Tucci, 2006
“Enterprises are realizing that unless they respond to the opportunities they could suffer Darwinian consequences.” Paul Maritz, 2014
It seems that Big Data will continue to impress the importance of both. I hope that you find the report insightful.