Mature Big Data programs are in the minorityCompanies with mature Big Data programs are now moving beyond data analysis to figuring out how to transform all the data into new information-based products and services. They are also equipping business teams with the ability to analyze subsets of Big Data “real-time” for immediate data insights. But, these companies are in the minority at this time as all companies wrestle with getting actionable insights from their data.

A recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and global sales and marketing firm ZS, disclosed that while 70% of business executives rated sales and marketing analytics as “very” or “extremely important”, only 2% could confidently state they have achieved “broad, positive impact”. That’s quite a gap.

Challenges to maximizing the opportunity

While the potential value of capitalizing on Big Data has certainly captured the attention of businesses, the associated challenges have been somewhat daunting. There is the exponential growth of data and diversity of data sources and formats. Add IoT to the mix and the complexity expands with the proliferation of connected devices and the associated volumes of data.

A gap in the skills required for unlocking the value of Big Data exists and there is confusion over specific skillsets Big Data engineers and scientists must possess to add value. Many firms have hired expensive data scientists only to find that they did not bring the value expected. Data analysts and scientists must also be able to use language of business when interacting with their internal customers.

A new study by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) shows the biggest skills gaps are real-time analytics (reported by 42%), relational databases (41%), data security (36%), predictive analysis (35%), distributed storage (33%), and data mining (30%).

Another gap relates to technology. Since new technology tools are required for managing big data, lack of experience with these tools may actually delay when companies will be able to make full use of their data.

Finally, there are the usual IT budget constraints, data security concerns, and integration challenges associated with a new category of technology services.

What companies do now

According to a recent NewVantage Partner Executive study, Big Data has achieved mainstream adoption within Fortune 1000 companies with 69.9% viewing Big Data as Very Important or Critical. They are making significant investments in both technology and staffing to accelerate delivery of Big Data insights and the ability to act faster.

In addition to building up their infrastructure and technology tools, companies are hiring Data Engineers, Data Scientists and even a newer role – that of Data Janitor. Prior to the introduction of the Data Janitor role, Data Scientists were spending a high percentage of their valuable time cleaning data before they could even think about deriving insights.

Confusion over roles still exists today and there’s a steep learning curve to address the volume, variety and velocity associated with multiple sources of Big Data.

What if you could outsource these functions to a trusted partner?

Some companies are choosing an alternative path and working with Big Data providers who can compress the time it takes to implement Big Data initiatives. Big Data experts at these companies possess the knowledge about Big Data technology tools or have accumulated expertise in performing data analytics and extracting the actionable insights that enable greater agility and nimbleness. A company may choose to outsource their Big Data initiatives entirely or retain either the technical infrastructure function or the analytics.

What First Line Software delivers to Big Data clients

The First Line business model is similar to the data-as-a-service model. Companies avoid the startup costs of managing volumes of data and staffing up for the expertise and knowledge required to implement their Big Data initiatives. Think Big-Data-as-a-Service.

First Line Software has built up an engineering team of Big Data experts who possess the technology knowledge and analytics expertise companies need to jumpstart their Big Data initiatives and meet the requirements of their internal business customers. Our Big Data engineers set up and manage the physical infrastructure and our highly trained analysts extract and study the relevant data to draw valuable insights from it.

Our experience in Big Data spans multiple industries and diverse types of Big Data initiatives:

  • High-volume / heavy load transaction systems to process VAT tax reports for a tax agency
  • Monitor consumer behavior /transmit mobile ads for a retail shopping mall
  • Data warehousing project for a railway transportation company
  • Global healthcare medical language and vocabulary system to enable global population health studies and analysis of the resulting Big Data repository

First Line selects the best tools from the Big Data technology stack including Hadoop for data storage, Hive infrastructure, and the Cloudera Impala query engine for its low-latency queuing technology.

Every Big Data initiative has its unique infrastructure and analytics requirements. If you’d like to explore outsourcing all or a part of your Big Data initiatives, contact us for a discussion about how partnering with First Line may be the right choice for your company.

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