Big Data Challenge More Than Managing Volumes of Data: Gartner

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

The term "big data" puts an inordinate focus on the issue of information volume, according to Gartner.

Many IT leaders are attempting to manage "big data" challenges by focusing on the high volumes of information to the exclusion of the many other dimensions of information management, leaving massive challenges to be addressed later, according to IT research firm Gartner.

"Big data" is a popular term used to acknowledge the exponential growth, availability and use of information in the data-rich landscape of tomorrow. The term "big data" puts an inordinate focus on the issue of information volume (in every aspect from storage through transform/transport to analysis), according to Gartner. Big data is also heavily weighted toward current issues and can lead to short-sighted decisions that will hamper an enterprise's information architecture as IT leaders try to expand and change it to meet changing business needs, the report noted.

Information managers may be tempted to focus on volume alone when they are losing control of the access and qualification aspects of data at the same time. Gartner analysts warned that too narrow a focus will force massive reinvestment in two to three years to address the other dimensions of big data.

"Today's information management disciplines and technologies are simply not up to the task of handling all these dynamics. Information managers must fundamentally rethink their approach to data by planning for all the dimensions of information management," said Mark Beyer, research vice president at Gartner. "The business's demand for access to the vast resources of big data gives information managers an opportunity to alter the way the enterprise uses information."

Beyer said IT leaders must educate their business counterparts on the challenges while ensuring some degree of control and coordination so that the big data opportunity doesn't become big data chaos, which may raise compliance risks, increase costs and create yet more silos.

Worldwide information volume is growing at a minimum rate of 59 percent annually, and while volume is a significant challenge in managing big data, business and IT leaders must focus on information volume, variety and velocity, he said. While big data is a significant issue, Gartner analysts said the real issue is making sense of big data and finding patterns in it that help organizations make better business decisions.

"The ability to manage extreme data will be a core competency of enterprises that are increasingly using new forms of information—such as text, social and context—to look for patterns that support business decisions in what we call Pattern-Based Strategy," said Yvonne Genovese, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Pattern-Based Strategy, as an engine of change, utilizes all the dimensions in its pattern-seeking process. It then provides the basis of the modeling for new business solutions, which allows the business to adapt. The seek-model-and-adapt cycle can then be completed in various mediums, such as social computing analysis or context-aware computing engines."