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The year in information management: Big data becomes big business

01 Jan 2013
Big data

When the calendar turned on 2012, the market for big data analytics was in its infancy. While much about the unstructured data market remains to be seen, the year saw the market grow by leaps and bounds as some of the biggest names in the market made their entries.

Over the course of the year, the big data space matured as vendors introduced their platforms and strategies. While new products made headlines, companies also pushed developer and education efforts aimed at addressing a lack of qualified professionals.

Among the most active firms in the big data space was IBM. The company and its famed Watson platform made big data analysis a centrepiece for its 2012 enterprise IT product lineup. Watson, which shot to fame when it defeated human contestants on the US quiz programme 'Jeopardy,' was paired with a new set of software and developer platforms over the course of the year.

IBM unveiled tools including the Analytical Decision Management software, while the acquisition of Vivisimo further sought to expand Big Blue's data analytics holdings. The company also kicked off a series of campaigns designed to raise awareness of Watson as an enterprise brand.

The company also sought to get Watson systems into the hands of students. Over the course of 2012, the company rolled out a series of partnerships with universities based on the deployment of Watson clusters.

IBM was far from the only company to showcase its big data offerings in 2012. Data storage specialist EMC also threw its hat into the ring with a steady stream of products and services designed for the big data analytics market.

The company made its 'data science' vision a focal point of its strategy over the course of the year as it sought to translate its data management capabilities into the big data market.

While EMC pumped much of its efforts into the big data space, the company believes that more work needs to be done build the big data market itself. EMC officials noted that uptake for big data systems in the enterprise space is still low and has plenty of room to grow.

Part of the slow uptake, according to EMC, is a lack of properly trained data analysts. The company cited a lack of qualified big data professionals when it announced a new series of big data training and certification platforms.

As the market grows in 2013, EMC sees itself uniquely positioned to make a play on the market. Late in the year the company revealed that it would be bundling its own big data efforts with platforms held by its subsidiary VMware. The two groups will be spun off as a new firm aimed at the big data and unstructured data analysis spaces.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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