Last week I had the great opportunity to attend a vendor CIO conference in San Francisco. Without doubt the number one topic was the rise of Big Data and the need for more and better and deeper and easier analytical tools to enable the business to leverage that Big Data. Certainly organizations are saving more data than ever and they are attempting to mine that data for insights into their own products, their business state and their customers and suppliers.
Speaking as someone in the storage business, I think this is great. The more data the better and I say save it forever because you never know when you might need it. Last year I had a meeting with some junior CIOs of a large banking outfit on another continent and they indicated that the laws in their country had been changed to mandate keeping banking records forever! Very funny that such could be codified into the law and I guess everyone just winks and nods and salutes and says ok. Perhaps they can build pyramids and chisel the records into the walls.
On the point of analytics, there are some key requirements that are still very open. First, there is definitely a need for easier tools for the non-IT business user who is trying to answer whatever question of the day. Most of today’s tools, even the ones that are for casual users, aren’t quite casual enough yet. One person at the conference indicated that only about 20% of the possible users are actually using today’s tools and there are many corners in the business world that are using nothing.
Second, there is significant growth in unstructured data throughout an organization in places like wikis and in external social tools like Twitter and Facebook. Imagine if one could tap these sources as well as your internal call center data as well as other data sources to build a more complete picture of the state of your products/services and customers in near real time. As I saw on some post somewhere nobody needs to be trained to use Facebook or Twitter and the next generation of analytical tools need to be that easy to use.
Third, mobility via smart-phones and tablets will keep going and users are going to want to answer their questions on the go.
This is going to be interesting area to watch over the next few years. In the mean time, save all that data because you never know what question you might want to answer later.