The cloud computing landscape is expected to continue transforming in 2014 as businesses around the world become more familiar with the hosted services and eliminate some of the mystery surrounding the technology. In the past, "cloud washing," which was classified as vendors polishing up old solutions and claiming them as "cloud" services, impacted how decision-makers felt toward the hosted landscape. In 2014, providers and executives will work together to develop more accurate and comprehensive definitions to reduce confusion.
A Help Net Security report highlighted this trend, which will help organizations pursue the cloud in more meaningful and effective ways. This demystification will occur through the development of integrated and properly designed cloud solutions that will be built in an effort to augment business operations.
Furthermore, enterprise executives won't necessarily be pinned down to implementing private or public cloud services separately. Due to recent innovations, companies now have the power to launch so-called hybrid cloud solutions that enable traditionally segregated cloud offerings to integrate and work together seamlessly. Help Net Security noted that the momentum behind hybrid cloud strategies will pick up speed in 2014, especially as firms seek new infrastructure technologies that make it easier to adopt next-generation operational trends.
A new cloud landscape
Although virtually all cloud services provide users with some benefits, hybrid offerings enable organizations to take advantage of the security of private solutions with the opportunity to expand into the public environment and use its highly scalable architecture. These capabilities have become especially important in the past several years as business operations have become more complex and the threat landscape has become more menacing.
Help Net Security noted that as cybercrime evolves, cloud security standards will advance to keep confidential assets safe. A separate Websense report highlighted similar concerns, revealing that analysts believe malicious outsiders will be more interested in cloud data than penetrating conventional networks. In 2014 and beyond, providers will continue to prioritize security and eliminate the possibility of unnecessary exposure.
In the coming years, cloud and other technologies will continue to evolve, encouraging decision-makers to pursue various cloud solutions to meet their specific needs and requirements. Businesses will need to be vigilant in 2014 because the new year always introduces unforeseen challenges. By planning ahead and watching the cloud market, organizations may gain a better chance for success.
Over the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that no matter the industry or the size of the company, certain individuals can leverage Big Data technology to give their operations a leg up over the competition and provide better services to clients. Using Big Data enables the emergence of patterns and other information that might not have been obvious when the data points were parceled out in smaller bundles.
That being said, recent information has suggested that the use of analytics can benefit some individuals in leadership roles more than others. For instance, gyro Senior Strategist Luke Bemis, writing for Forbes Magazine, pointed out that the use of Big Data is changing the responsibilities of chief marketing officers (CMOs) because they are increasingly being called on to understand complex technologies and data sets.
Bemis noted that CMOs will be some of the only administrators who will be able to harness Big Data technology as times goes on.
"This is what makes Big Data high stakes. Moreover, this is what will separate the CMO of yesterday from the CMO of tomorrow," Bemis wrote.
In fact, a separate Forbes article explained that of all the requests a CMO might have in the office, Big Data is close to the top of the list because technology is increasingly being used to solve business problems. The magazine suggested that to continue to play a key role in the work place, CMOs will have to use analytics to take a more natural and consumer-centric approach to Big Data down the road. Doing so can result in more focused campaigns, targeted products and services, and continued success as the business cycle progresses.
Remaining competitive is one of the top corporate objectives within today's business world. Having the ability to accurately gather insight into prospective and existing customer behavior as well as internal operations is among the best ways to establish a competitive advantage. Doing so often requires firms to use various Big Data technologies that make it easier to collect, store, and assess large volumes of information.
During the past 18 months or so, companies have launched an accelerated adoption plan for Big Data tools, according to a new AIIM report. Although information analysis is widely viewed as a critical capability in today's environment, roughly 60 percent of responding organizations said they have limited business intelligence powers, which means they may be viewing different projects and endeavors inaccurately.
Today, the conceptual benefits of Big Data projects are being broadly accepted across the enterprise landscape; however, many firms may not be pursuing these initiatives in the right way. As a result, these companies are generating more "dark data," which is classified as information sets that aren't properly labeled or controlled.
"Big Data potentially holds huge insight for organizations, but the mass of "dark data" could impact the ability to extract that insight effectively," said Doug Miles, director of market intelligence at AIIM. "Businesses should look to harness their information and combine it across disparate systems as a precursor to their Big Data journey."
Overcoming Big Data adversity
The fact of the matter is that the idea of Big Data is relatively unfamiliar to many firms, especially smaller organizations that aren't necessarily accustomed to collecting and managing huge volumes of information. AIIM highlighted how a large number of businesses are struggling to find the talent needed to maintain robust Big Data initiatives, which is why 34 percent of respondents said they have outsourced the projects to a more knowledgeable and capable third party. Another 13 percent noted that they brought in outside help to alleviate complications.
Nevertheless, the survey found that companies are relentless in their dedication to Big Data. Approximately 34 percent of respondents said they believe Big Data will be essential for the business to experience success in the future. Meanwhile, 60 percent of organizations stated that their initial return on investment is "good," which suggests that enterprises are at least pursuing the Big Data projects that align with their needs.
In a Sand Hill report, IT expert Chris Kocher highlighted how it is important that decision-makers understand that Big Data isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy because each company has unique goals, capabilities, and projections. Kocher asserted that building a Big Data initiative means understanding and incorporating both traditionally structured information as well as newer, less familiar unstructured assets. Meanwhile, executives must ensure their organization has the ability to collect those resources from various internal and external sources if they want to maximize the value of their Big Data projects and gather a wide view of multiple environments.
Launching a successful Big Data project also means making sure that the hype surrounding the strategy doesn't surpass the actual capabilities of the endeavor, Kocher noted. This often happens when organizations adopt plans too quickly that haven't taken all factors into account, leading to an unrealistic expectation of how Big Data will impact operations.
There's no doubt that properly executed Big Data initiatives will transform the way companies view and approach their futures. Overcoming initial hype and challenges will be critical to achieving these benefits because encountering pitfalls early on will only result in a poor perception of Big Data, causing organizations to miss out on a number of critical opportunities.
Recent industry surveys and consumer reports have indicated that companies around the world need to consider getting control of the information in their possession and turning meaningless resources into critical insight. This imperative has encouraged business decision-makers to embrace Big Data initiatives, many of which promise to reduce costs and provide new perspectives into the customer landscape. Although these endeavors will likely continue gaining momentum in 2014, organizations must take a look at the bigger picture to truly be successful.
A recent ZDNet report highlighted how Big Data initiatives are often overkill because the projects require firms to collect, store, and analyze more information than might be necessary. Having a broad range of data assets to choose from will likely provide enterprises with more opportunities to convert those resources into useful information; however, the mere presence of such large volumes of data can introduce potential performance and security issues.
The fact of the matter is that Big Data is difficult to approach, ZDNet noted. Although cloud computing and other advanced technologies can give organizations the ability to scale their infrastructure as needed to meet the demands of the growing information in their possession, most sales, marketing, and customer service departments don't need such vast quantities of data to improve operations. Small Data, on the other hand, can connect employees with critical insight that is packaged in a way that makes it highly accessible and easy to understand.
ZDNet noted that Small Data initiatives are poised to pick up speed in 2014 and may even emerge as a mainstream movement during the course of the year. There are several driving factors behind this growing phenomenon.
Small Data is prevalent
The emerging social media and mobile landscapes are providing organizations of all sizes with easy access to an abundance of Small Data. As the use of these technologies accelerates in the coming years, businesses need to consider how they can aggregate and use this information to improve operations. ZDNet highlighted how people are constantly creating Small Data that can easily be collected by forward-thinking organizations, allowing those enterprises to gain greater insight into current and prospective objectives.
A separate Open Knowledge Foundation report highlighted how Small Data can be extremely helpful for organizations that don't necessarily have the financial or operational resources to back significant Big Data initiatives. However, that doesn't mean smaller businesses can't collect and analyze information on customers and employees, but only that they may need to do so differently from larger enterprises.
By adopting Small Data projects, companies can piece together critical processes instead of launching a single, all-encompassing strategy that may not be able to hit more detailed objectives.
Simple is better
In many cases, businesses will need to hire data scientists and other professionals to properly tackle Big Data initiatives. Small Data, on the other hand, can often be collected and used by non-technical employees, ZDNet noted. This finding means that more organizations will be able to adopt information management strategies without worrying about being overwhelmed or feeling like a fish out of water.
In the coming years, information will become increasingly important. Regardless of whether firms adopt Small or Big Data initiatives, decision-makers need to map out a strategy and find out how they can properly collect, analyze, and use information to improve operations and gain a competitive advantage. By taking the time to understand their firm's critical long-term objectives, executives may be able to build a customized blueprint that optimizes performance and makes hitting those goals less challenging.
Both large enterprises and small companies are becoming more familiar with the necessities of collecting, managing, and storing increasingly large volumes of information. For this reason, industry experts believe that Big Data initiatives will continue to gain momentum in 2014 and move beyond the early adoption phase in which it currently exists.
These findings were highlighted in a recent report by research firm Ovum, which also revealed that the platforms and technologies used in Big Data initiatives will diversify in the coming years, especially as organizations adopt various tools for different reasons. In many cases, decision-makers will opt to deploy multiple solutions at the same time to experience a greater overlap in capabilities and improve operations as a whole.
"The rationale is a mix of providing convenience, leveraging familiarity with SQL, and providing unified management over diverse analytic workloads. By bundling multiple engines, management of diverse analytic workloads becomes more convenient," said Tony Baer, principal software analyst at Ovum. "The drawback is that some of these engines or approaches are quite early in development; in many cases, implementations are still proprietary."
Fast data, which makes up the high-velocity portion of the Big Data landscape, will have a particular impact on how Big Data solutions are built and deployed.
A new market emerges
Analysts highlighted how Big Data applications are growing increasingly popular because these tools provide companies of all sizes with the ability to analyze large volumes of complex information without introducing unnecessary performance or financial issues. As the Big Data technology market emerges and expands, the global business software landscape will also experience growth.
A separate IDC report highlighted how Big Data and analytic solutions are driving worldwide spending on software. Analysts revealed that overall investments on applications will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 6 percent between 2012 and 2017. Data management, access, and analysis tools in particular are poised to witness an 8 percent CAGR during the forecast period.
Big Data is changing the business world, encouraging organizations of all sizes to adopt new tools and strategies to optimize performance. By planning ahead and understanding how the application environment is expected to change, executives can find and launch the tools that meet their specific needs and requirements.
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