Battling big data: the frequently forgotten integration issue


By David Irecki, Manager – Solution Consulting APJ, Dell Boomi
Wednesday, 14 June, 2017

Battling big data: the frequently forgotten integration issue

Managing big and little data is an ongoing process, and it pays to be ready for the future as the likes of IoT and AI expand their relevance to business.

As ‘big data’ burst onto the scene some seven years ago, it promised vastly improved means of capturing and analysing endless arrays of rapidly growing information to provide targeted intelligence for organisations. This would result in improved business decisions, operational efficiencies and personalised systems of engagement — a CIO’s dream in its own right.

Fast forward to 2017 and it turns out the now-buzzword is indeed demonstrating this promised value. Subsequently, the big data market is expanding as an increasing number of enterprises are beginning to realise returns on investment. And with some analysts expecting data volumes to double every three years, big data’s place in the market is certainly solidified.

Despite the positive outlook, however, many organisations are yet to fully capitalise on the value of data. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute study, “In industries where integrating more and better data can dramatically improve performance — such as banking, insurance, retail, the public sector, and beyond — the organisations that master this capability can realise major advantages.”

Unfortunately, having crunched the numbers, the institute found “most companies are capturing only a fraction of the potential value from data and analytics”. By industry, healthcare and public sector organisations are only collecting between 10 and 20% of value from data and analytics, while manufacturing fares at 20–40%, with retail leading the pack at 40%.

These underwhelming figures show there’s a long way to go to thrive in today’s global economy, and the opportunity starts with an integrated approach to leveraging big data. Integration allows CIOs to break through traditional silos, giving organisations a holistic view of their big data in order to explore new insights and business models. And just as important as integration is the master data management (MDM) that comes with it. MDM provides the visibility to create meaningful insights into the information collected across all parts of an organisation, allowing companies to develop better customer, employee and partner experiences.

Naturally, there are organisations that are better at harnessing the power of integration, and are therefore able to monetise big data. The digital natives that are built for cloud, analytics, social and mobile keep widening the gap between them and the more traditional players that have to first navigate a minefield of legacy systems by adapting to the data-driven era before addressing data-informed decision-making.

As it stands, this gap between leaders and laggards stands to widen further as new data sources — and their related insights — emerge. Artificial intelligence (AI), for example — a market which is expected to be valued US$47 billion globally in 2020, according to IDC — is creating new possibilities; organisations that are already using big data to drive their businesses are prepared to take on these new challenges and opportunities.

While integrating big data remains an obstacle for businesses of all sizes, there are instances aplenty of companies needing strategies to make the most of ‘little data’ as well. Little (or small) data refers to that which can be processed and managed by people without relying on technology and/or automation. This includes information from customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), marketing, human resources and other core business applications.

This need to better integrate little data has grown amid rapid adoption of cloud applications and the use of public cloud platforms. In a hybrid IT environment, integration is essential to streamlining processes and building the foundation for effective analytics systems.

Managing big and little data is an ongoing process, and it pays to be ready for the future as the likes of IoT and AI expand their relevance to business. This is why organisations need to combine a flexible and high-performing integration infrastructure with MDM to tackle immediate needs and also scale out as the business builds its big data capabilities.

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