Big Data = Big $$ for Biz, says Gartner

Big Data isn’t just about managing petabytes and zettabytes. Over the next five years, Big Data is going to be a “disruptive force” (in a good way!). From helping businesses to see their existing challenges more clearly, to enabling more accurate predictions for what’s next, Big Data will give companies the power to spot subtle changes they wouldn’t have otherwise noticed, create entirely new business models, and—may I have a drum roll please?—uncover major new revenue and competitive opportunities.

No, this isn’t just chest thumping from your friendly folks at EMC Isilon. This is the conclusion of a new Gartner report, “Pattern-Based Strategy: Getting Value From Big Data.”

Gartner’s is the latest in a number of research studies to focus on Big Data’s growth and huge potential business value. In May, McKinsey Global Institute released its study “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity” (it’s a free 150 page PDF download). And in late June came the results of EMC and IDC’s 2011 Digital Universe study called “Extracting Value from Chaos,” also a free PDF download and definitely worth a read.

And now Gartner has joined the fray. Here are a few choice nuggets from the report to chew on:

  • Big Data brings with it big management challenges, which Gartner calls “extreme information management issues.” (You’ve got to love that name; it sounds like the set-up for areality TV show.)
  • On the flip side, Big Data will also “enable the emergence of even more significant business opportunities,” ushering in “a new era of digitally accelerated business models.”
  • Gartner offers examples of how Big Data is already transforming organizations across a variety of sectors, including e-commerce, crime prevention, retail, healthcare, government, and utilities. For example: “In healthcare, breakthroughs in understanding, diagnosing and treating diseases have come about through enhanced statistical knowledge, rather than individualized expertise.”
  • Big Data will also transform the CIO’s role, which to date has been largely “a reactive role in a supporting function.” Able to connect insights gleaned from Big Data to the enterprise’s business challenges, CIOs can be proactive and entrepreneurial, cooking up valuable new business ideas and revenue streams.
  • In conclusion, the Gartner report says that access to “all this information is pointless unless it leads to better, faster and more-informed decisions and actions.” The report recommends that organizations adopt what Gartner calls “Pattern-Based Strategy” to explore “the disciplines and technologies necessary to seek information from current and emerging sources (e.g., big data), model the impact of the findings, make decisions and adapt the organization.”

So it’s not just about how Big Data itself will drive change in business, but how we have to change to turn Big Data from an “extreme information management issue” to a huge opportunity. Big Data will continue to be a change driver for companies, both in improving the ways they do business today and in finding new ways of doing business they haven’t even thought of yet. And as with all change, those who adapt will thrive, and those who do not, will perish.

About the Author: Nick Kirsch