Print Save PDF

About 5 minutes

Big Data: The Most essential Resource of the Century

The argument has already been made by IBM CEO Ginny Rometty, calling big data the “World’s natural resource for the next century.”

big_dataI realize the word natural is kind of a loaded term.

Although data itself is not being extracted from minefields or river beds, it is abundantly available. That’s sort of the natural but not-so natural aspect of big data.

If you simply own a laptop, you are plush with so much data you wouldn’t even know where to begin with it. C-Suite executives such as CIOs are drowning in a sea of unstructured (social posts, email, mobile, audio, video, streaming content) and structured (databases, data warehouses) information.

In that regard, data is nothing like oil, which can be so scarce that we’ve seen countries fight wars over it. (In fact, oil and energy analysts are forecasting a potential shortage this year.) Data flows in a constant stream from a multitude of structured and unstructured sources.

Crappy data isn't a competitive advantage

Just like crude oil, crude data isn’t going to help anyone. It’s unfiltered. It’s full of its own form of carcinogens (redundancy, inaccuracies, timeliness).

Rometty made the point that for big data to have any value, it needs to be refined.

Manjit Singh, CIO of The Clorox Company, explained to, “The challenge is not in collecting data. We’re challenged in how to get insight out of the data – what questions to ask and how to use the data to predict results in the business.”

Internet of Things the most important big data resource

IoT can be chock-full of useless unstructured data. Not every source is a beacon of light.

As the Motherboard discussed, there are forks that track your chew rate and cloud-connected bookmarks that can help you remember where you left off in your latest pleasure reading adventure.

However, for businesses and industries, IoT devices that could prove useful include smart thermostats that are used in data centers, sensors that collect information on inventory, or medical monitoring devices that enable doctors and nurses to remotely monitor patients. 

This information could certainly prove useful to foster informed decisions, but how much of this data is worth spending money on for analytics?

Tech Radar believes the initial investment is worthwhile because storage costs are at an all-time low. It really won’t take much for organizations to store and cultivate this data, yet the payoffs can be significant.

Even if storing a lot of useless data is required to unearth more valuable business intelligence, it’s well worth the price of admission.

To get to the good stuff, big data processing tools like Hadoop and Apache Spark will be instrumental. Data will need to be stored, organized, cleansed, and logically structured to extract value. 

Most IoT Data Not Used

Even with the most effective big data tools at your disposal, there is no way to avoid accumulating less insightful IoT data.

It’s a byproduct of collecting information from IoT devices, including sensors that are designed specifically to pull transactional or operational findings.

As McKinsey & Company explained:

“Currently, most IoT data are not used. For example, on an oil rig that has 30,000 sensors, only 1% of the data are examined. That’s because this information is mostly used to detect and control anomalies — not for optimization and prediction, which provide the greatest value.”

The Final Verdict

Ultimately, IoT big data is going to deliver more predictive and qualitative value. It’s just that it’ll take some time and continued cracks at the refinement process. Patience is going to be important for big data investors.

Right now, a large proportion of the IoT big data that is out there are in the form of raw materials, and there isn’t one go-to blueprint for capturing this real-time information as it’s unfolding.

Gordon Fletcher from Salford Business School’s Centre of Digital Business states, “Realizing the benefits of big data is in the sense of interconnectedness will inevitably take time and investment.”

How are leading decision-makers using their big data to their advantage?

See for yourself by downloading Secrets of a Skyrocketing CIO.


Written by IBM BP Network