In the Cloud, Big Data Scientists Need Not Apply

All the hype about Big Data over the past year has succeeded in educating executives in organizations of all sizes across nearly every industry about the unprecedented potential to use analytics to improve operations, sales effectiveness and customer support.

However, the hype has also too often made the path to success appear overly complicated and needlessly costly when a combination of new cloud innovations and higher end-user skills could provide a more economical remedy.

Given that there has always been more data accumulating in corporate servers and from myriad external sources than anyone could assimilate, it is somewhat surprising that the idea of Big Data has only recently captured everyone’s attention.

New Tools

This phenomenon can certainly be attributed in part to the explosive growth of data in our increasingly connected world of digital devices and services. I think it is also a result of a newfound optimism that we may finally have a set of tools at our disposal to attack the age-old business intelligence challenge which couldn’t be cracked in the past.

Rather than worry about building costly data warehouses, we can now turn to more cost-effective cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers, like Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, to help us capture and store data at a fraction of the price of maintaining our own server farms.

Also, rather than contend with complicated BI applications that only sophisticated programmers or highly skilled business analysts could handle, a new generation of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions have been specifically designed to appeal to corporate end-users, as well as their managers and corporate executives.

Ease of Use

These cloud resources and solutions are being matched by a more data-hungry workforce increasingly attuned to the power of analytics and willing to share their insights with their peers. These may be traits that we take for granted, but past generations of workers refused to take advantage of prior knowledge management systems because they didn’t want to share information. In today’s social network-centric world, sharing information and insight has become second nature.

There is another ingredient at play in the growing awareness of the potential power of Big Data. We’re all becoming amateur data analysts. Many of us have been exposed to the power of analytics through fantasy sports, as we devour the latest statistics for our favorite teams from a variety of online sources. Others are tracking metrics to monitor their calories, weight, utilities, car mileage, etc.

In the same way consumer technology and consumerization of IT has made us all more technologically adept, the emancipation and democratization of data in various aspects of our personal lives is making us more data aware in the workplace.

As a result, smart business executives are recognizing that capitalizing on Big Data doesn’t demand big investments in complex BI systems and high-priced data scientists. Instead, it means giving their employees access to cloud-based analytic tools that can satisfy their growing appetite for actionable information.

Jeffrey M. Kaplan

Jeff Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies and founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace. He can be reached at [email protected].

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