Making the Most of Big Data and the IoT

    The enterprise is rightly concerned about getting its money’s worth from Big Data and the IoT, but as with so many technology initiatives of the past, achieving optimal ROI isn’t so much a factor of the technology itself but in how you use it.

    For many organizations, the purpose of these emerging platforms is to mine existing and incoming data to draw greater insight from previously hidden patterns. Theoretically, this will enable a better view of market conditions, product development, and a host of other elements to produce a more agile and competitive enterprise for the digital age.

    But as GlobalData Technology discovered in a recent survey of IoT professionals, this may prove to be a bit of a chimera – at least at first. Instead, the consensus is starting to gravitate toward leveraging Big Data and IoT infrastructure toward optimizing existing business processes rather than insight-driven innovation. The report takes particular aim at the idea that today’s all-in-one Business Intelligence platforms will add real value to IoT data streams, when in reality the broad democratization of data will benefit the more targeted means of parsing that data, such as SQL queries, predictive data modelling and auto-generated discovery. Once these tools have helped streamline existing processes, they can then turn their attention to creating new ones.

    One thing not to overlook in Big Data operations is the need to provide analytics engines with good data, says tech writer Savaram Ravindra. Emerging Enterprise Information Management (EIM) platforms are unifying previously discrete disciplines like data governance, business intelligence and master data management to help organizations separate the high-quality data from the junk. In this way, the enterprise can streamline its analytics infrastructure and produce faster, more-accurate results.

    For Oneserve CEO Chris Proctor, the holy tech trinity of digital transformation will be Big Data, the IoT and artificial intelligence. While it is true that all three are still caught up in the hype cycle, a closer look reveals the ways in which they are making current data processes and business models obsolete. With the IoT as the data-gathering tool and intelligent analysis and automation putting that data to work, the enterprise of the future will not only be more effective in terms of the services it provides, it will also be more secure, less expensive to maintain and more proactive in its operations.

    Getting there won’t be easy, however. Just getting Big Data engines to where they can produce significant ROI is a multi-step process, says WhereScape CTO Neil Barton. First, it helps to establish clear goals for your deployment, otherwise it’s just casting money into the wind. And understand that even “free” Big Data tools and technology often follow the mobile app version of free: Sure, you can get started, but to really make it work, you have to buy the extras. From there, you’ll need to mix and match various solutions to devise an optimal framework, and this is all before you transition to production environments where you’ll inevitably encounter governance and management issues. And ultimately, this shift will affect organizational hierarchies, business processes and ingrained cultural preferences, which are exceedingly resistant to change.

    Clearly, implementation of these advanced architectures will involve equal parts planning and strategizing, with perhaps the occasional leap of faith thrown in for good measure. Not every project will produce phenomenal returns, but then again they won’t require a long-term technological commitment either – once the basic software-defined architectures are established.

    And at some point in the near future, the enterprise will be able to execute advanced applications and services based on its business needs, not according to the dictates of infrastructure.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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