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On the plus side IBM is convinced that the combination of Big Data and analytics application software is laying the foundation for a major economic expansion. On the downside, prospective customers are a little short on analytics expertise and most IT organizations are still not familiar with Big Data technologies such as Hadoop.

IBM is trying to help customers overcome that latter issue by making it easier for them to get familiar with analytics technologies via the introduction of a new IBM Smarter Analytics Signatures Solutions series of pre-integrated analytics applications aimed at fraud detection, financial operations and customer service.

Speaking at a recent IBM Smarter Analytics and Big Data Leadership summit in New York, Mike Rhodin, IBM senior vice president for software solutions, says analytics will not only drive an overall expansion of the economy, it’s also going to lead to a lot of disruption in almost every vertical industry as organizations both big and small begin to treat data as a core asset that provides them with a competitive edge. As such, Rhodin says the people driving the acquisition of these systems are not so much traditional IT people as they are individuals with titles such as chief marketing officer, chief procurement officer, chief financial officer or chief risk management officer.

IT people are obviously still heavily involved in the process, but Rhodin says it’s becoming clear that when it comes to analytics senior business leaders within the organization are more involved than ever in driving the acquisition process. This is because the new analytics systems are increasingly being used to transform the front-office operations of the business. In fact, analytics applications are not only emerging as a distinct class of application workloads, the data they generate is going to account for the majority of the infrastructure being deployed in the future.

The good news for solution providers in the channel is that the technologies involved in what is now the fastest growing segment of IT go well beyond the open source Hadoop framework for managing data. Speaking at the same IBM event, Robert LeBlanc, IBM senior vice president for middleware, adds that beyond Hadoop, there are also a range of other technologies required for analyzing Big Data in real time, such as IBM Netezza data warehouse appliances. In addition, tools for visualizing data, data exploration, optimizing application workloads, securing and governing that data, and dedicated appliances for processing certain types of data are all core elements of the analytics ecosystem.

Ultimately, IBM says that “the four major V elements” of that ecosystem are the platform need to handle the volume of data involved, the variety of sources of the data, the velocity at which that data needs to be process, and finally insuring the veracity of that data.
Given the fact that most organizations are still in the very early stages of the next major evolution in analytics, it’s hard for solution providers to know exactly when they should invest their resources. But already we’re seeing venture capitalists along with companies such as IBM making big bets on analytics.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that to one degree or another that a significant percentage of the organizations that most solution providers deal with are looking for more insight into their business operations. That may not mean they are ready to run the entire business based on what a bunch of analytics algorithms tell them they should do. But at the very least it does mean that even the most skeptical of business executives is going to appreciate some validation of their strategy that can only really be found in a new generation of advanced analytics application software.