V3 Big Data Summit: Companies need to use big data now or risk being left in the dust by their rivals, according to experts from Pentaho and Accenture.
The V3 Big Data Summit webinar saw Wael Elrifai, Pentaho's EMEA director of enterprise solutions, and Nick Millman, Accenture Digital's managing director, discuss the findings of a V3 survey to determine readers' views on big data.
Notably, the survey found almost half of all respondents have yet to start using big data in their business operations. This was a concern to Elrifai, who highlighted the pressing need for enterprises to tap into the potential of analysing big data to stop rivals gaining insight-driven advantages.
"That sounds like a genuine risk to me. The reality is that, unless they build out their capabilities, they will lose out to competitors," he said.
Millman echoed Elrifai's views, adding: "I think companies need to turn it into value pretty quickly. You either start using big data or you are at a significant disadvantage."
However, he pointed out that there are a growing number of organisations that already extract value from big data and which should be seen as standard bearers for others to follow.
"There are quite a lot of use cases in the public domain about how big data is used," he said. "It's a really good opportunity to set a better strategy."
Tools of the trade
One of the stumbling blocks to making use of big data is the complexity of managing vast amounts of disparate information from internal and external sources.
Getting the infrastructure and software in place can be a challenge even for experienced IT team.
Elrifai pointed out that there is an increasing number of specialist software tools, including those from Pentaho, that effectively bypass this complexity, particularly when it comes to blending data from several sources.
"Companies are seeing these problems across the board," he said. "A strong integration tool will be able to bring in unstructured, structured and semi-structured data."
Elrifai added that, once these tools are in place, companies can build on them and explore how best big data can be used to drive value for their business.
"As companies mature they need to ask: what do we need to do better if we have unlimited information?' and then go out there and explore what structures they need to build to 'onboard' that data," he said.
Millman added that the use of such tools allows companies to get started with big data in a faster and business-oriented way and avoid trying to create large and complex systems to handle all manner of data sources, relevant or otherwise.
"Don't spend too long trying to build a complete enterprise system for big data. Get started where you think the first two or three chunks of value will be," he advised.
Leading from the top
The panel also discussed whether big data adoption should be driven by the IT department or by C-suite executives. The panel responded that both should be involved in the process, as projects need the leadership of high-level executives and the expertise of IT.
Millman noted that the C-suite is increasingly interested in big data adoption as more business value is being reported from carrying out analytics on large data sets.
"Sometimes we see [big data integration] as the IT function, but increasingly we are seeing it being driven by the business," he said. "I think it‘s important for business and IT to be aligned to what is going to happen."
Elrifai highlighted that companies at the start of exploring the use of big data will need to have strong leadership to ensure it is adopted in the best way possible.
"Where there is a business change requirement, it has to be led from the C-suite," he said. "We will absolutely see the C-suite involved [in the future] and we have been seeing more of that over the past year."
Elrifai has previously told V3 that there are several key aspects to using big data, including how tapping into open source frameworks and having strong business processes will drive the future of big data analytics.
To watch the big data video webinar simply register your details and watch on demand.
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