"Organizations have increased their understanding of what big data is and how it could transform the business in novel ways. The new key questions have shifted to 'What are the strategies and skills required?' and 'How can we measure and ensure our return on investment?'" said Doug Laney, research vice president at Gartner. "Most organizations are still in the early stages, and few have thought through an enterprise approach or realized the profound impact that big data will have on their infrastructure, organizations and industries."
Organizations are undertaking their big data initiatives in a rapidly shifting technological landscape with disruptive forces that produce and demand new data types and new kinds of information processing. They turn to big data technology for two reasons: necessity and conviction.
Organizations are becoming aware that big data initiatives are critical because they have identified obvious or potential business opportunities that cannot be met with traditional data sources, technologies or practices. In addition, media hype is often backed with rousing use cases.
"This makes IT and business leaders worry that they are behind competitors in launching their big data initiatives. Not to worry, ideas and opportunities at this time are boundless, and some of the biggest big data ideas come from adopting and adapting ideas from other industries," said Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner. "Still, this makes it challenging to cut through the hype when evaluating big data technologies, approaches and project alternatives."
Despite these challenges, Gartner predicts that by 2015, 20 percent of Global 1000 organizations will have established a strategic focus on "information infrastructure" equal to that of application management.
In anticipation of big data opportunities, organizations across industries are provisionally collecting and storing a burgeoning amount of operational, public, commercial and social data. Yet in most industries — especially government, manufacturing and education — combining these sources with existing underutilized "dark data" such as emails, multimedia and other enterprise content often represents the most immediate opportunity to transform businesses.
Gartner said that by integrating and analyzing a variety of data sources, not just individually, organizations can achieve the most extraordinary business insights, process optimization and, of course, decision making. Although most of the big data hype is about handling the sheer size and speed of data available, our research shows that the ultimate wins will be from those making sense of the broadening range of data sources.
"Business and IT executives regularly say that information is one of their company's greatest assets," said Mr. Laney. "Businesses are increasingly managing and deploying information more effectively than ever, but certainly not with the well-honed asset management discipline applied to their traditional material, financial or other intangible assets. The application of formal information valuation models will allow IT, information management and business leaders to make better-informed decisions on information management (IM), enrichment, security, risks, purchasing, collection, usage, bartering, productization and disposal."