The downside of big data

Read time 2min 30sec

Though big data promises massive opportunities for many organisations in the digital age, it can have a negative impact on a business.

This was the word from Mark Torr, director of SAS Technology Practice in the Centre of Excellence for IM & Analytics, who was speaking during the ITWeb Business Intelligence 2013 Summit yesterday.

"Big data could consume you if you do not look at it in the right way," said Torr. "Ask 10 people their view on what big data is, and you will often get 10 different answers and a lot of buzzwords about technology."

According to Torr, if not used correctly, big data can affect an organisation's ability to effectively use proactive analytics in a timely manner for fact-based decision-making.

He added that big data brings new challenges in managing, orchestrating and treating new types and growing volumes of data, some of which may not ever be stored, as well as factors such as analytical models that let organisations exploit their data.

"You can only derive value from big data when you can fully exploit it at the right time, in the right places, and at an appropriate speed. As you acquire more data, you need to work out what to store, when to store it, and how to store it in a cost-effective manner.

"All you are doing is increasing the cost of your IT environment in the hope of getting some return," he said.

According to Torr, more data has been arriving more quickly in more varied forms than ever before. He added that big data has also resulted in more analytics (reactive and proactive) on a greater variety of data and in a shorter space of time.

However, he pointed out that organisations have to adapt to the challenges presented by big data if they are to survive.

"The future is closer than you think and you need to start adapting now to survive and thrive," said Torr. "Big data requires that you can acquire a variety of different data in different volumes, at varying velocity, in different ways."

Describing what he believes will be the future big data ecosystem, Torr said information governance will become more important than ever and must span structured and unstructured data and beyond.

He also believes that in-memory technologies that give the speed required to process large volumes of data for both reactive and proactive analytics will come to the fore.

According to Torr, in future, data warehouse and appliance technologies will diminish in importance for business intelligence and analytics.

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