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Big Data Two-Step

We just concluded the TDWI Big Data Analytics Solution Summit in Austin, Texas (September 15–17). It was a great success; many thanks go to our speakers, sponsors, TDWI colleagues who managed the event, and to everyone who attended. A special thanks to Krish Krishnan, who co-chaired the conference. We are already planning the 2014 Big Data Analytics Solution Summits to be held in the spring and fall, so keep an eye out for details on these events if you are interested in attending.

In Austin, I had the chance to talk with a broad range of attendees. Some were in the early stages of planning and technology acquisition for big data analytics, while others were in the middle of ongoing, funded projects involving enterprise data warehouses, analytic platforms, Hadoop, Hive, MapReduce, and related technologies. We had data scientists and BI and data warehouse architects in attendance as well as business and IT leadership.

I heard exciting tales of initiatives driven by C-level executives who were pushing hard to gain competitive advantages by infusing new business ventures with richer data insights about customer behavior, product and service affinity, and process optimization. It was clear that in the often confusing world of big data, where organizations are on a voyage of discovery, it is a major plus to have high-level leadership that can define objectives and desired outcomes.

Briefly, here are three takeaways from the Summit:
  • Finding professionals with big data skills remains a huge challenge. In my introductory remarks at the Summit, I reported on results of our latest TDWI Technology Survey, which asked attendees at the August 2013 World Conference in San Diego to rank their big data challenges. The survey found that dealing with data variety and complexity is the biggest challenge right now, followed by data volume and data distribution. However, when I wrote the survey, I neglected to include finding skilled professionals among the challenges that attendees could rank. In conversations with Summit attendees, this was most often cited as their biggest challenge.
  • Big data analytics is about speed. In both presentations and sponsor panel discussions, “speed” was cited numerous times as the chief benefit sought from big data analytic discovery. Organizations want faster speed to insight than they are getting from traditional BI and data warehousing systems; they know that if they can apply insights about customer behavior, marketing campaign performance, projected margins, and other concerns faster, they will save their organizations money and create business advantages. David Mariani, CEO of @Scale, Inc., and former VP of engineering at the social analytics data services provider Klout, gave a great presentation that brought into focus why Hadoop has been so valuable. Mariani discussed why emerging interactive query engines like Cloudera’s Impala and Apache Shark will change the game by adding significant speed-to-insight capabilities to the Hadoop environment. 
  • Integrating data views is essential to realizing big data value. Some of the most compelling case studies at the conference were about how organizations can build profitable ventures based on a foundation of integrated data analysis. Dr. Tao Wu, lead data scientist at Nokia’s Data and Analytics organization, offered a powerful case study presentation about Nokia’s HERE business. With a centralized analytics platform rather than disconnected silos, Nokia has been able to improve products by analyzing the combination of mobile and location data.

Posted by David Stodder on September 24, 2013


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