SA snubs big data

Read time 2min 30sec

Big data in SA has not been widely adopted as the majority of organisations in the country do not see its value.

That's according to Gerhard Botha, CTO at the PBT Group, who was addressing the ITWeb BI Summit 2014 yesterday at the Forum, Bryanston.

"In South Africa, big data is not widely adopted as there no perceived need for it," said Botha. "In a recent survey, many organisations' response was 'we don't have big data'. There are not many organisations that have big data problems or where the investment is justified."

A recent global report from Gartner discovered that 64% of organisations have invested in or plan to invest in Big Data technology, but only 8% have started using it, he added.

Botha revealed that the banking, finance and insurance sector is the biggest adopter of big data; followed by services and manufacturing, respectively. He also indicated that there is a growing interest from government as well as education sectors.

As an example of government adoption of big data, in order to prevent terrorism and international crime, the US government started collecting e-mails, call detail records, instant messages and much more. The NSA would beg, borrow and steal from many data providers, he said.

Botha believes that there is a shift in who the real consumer of big data is. Traditionally, he said, the consumer was large organisations, but that is shifting to the end-consumer.

He said consumers now demand to know more about their world and their life. As an example of organisations taking advantage of this trend, he noted that Google has entered into an agreement to acquire Nest, the business behind the smart thermostat and smoke detector, for $3.2 billion in cash.

The Internet of things will also drive big data, said Botha. Quoting Gartner, he pointed out that in 2009 there were 2.5 billion connected devices with unique IP addresses to the Internet, most of these were devices people carry such as cellphones and PCs.

In 2020, there will be up to 30 billion devices connected with unique IP addresses, most of which will be products, he said.

Nonetheless, he noted that there are also questions about the integrity of big data, saying a recent article on Google about flu trends showed that the online tracker massively overestimated the year's flu season.

He is also of the view that the term "big data" is unlikely to survive. "Big data is too big to be lumped into one concept," said Botha. "The parts that constitute big data will dominate the IT landscape for years to come."

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