Big Data will grow past its hype towards 2016 to become “just data” once the technologies mature, and organizations learn how to deal with it, according to Gartner, Inc. While data is regularly defined by the dimensions of volume, velocity and variety, information management concerns must be much broader.
“The bottom line is that not all information requires a Big Data approach,” said Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner. “The new “Big Data way’ is not going to replace all other forms of information management. There is more room - and need - for experimentation in the area of ‘information of innovation,’ for instance with social media data, or by making processes more information-centric.”
Buytendijk said that it’s important that organizations understand that Big Data isn't the only stream of innovation in information management. The industry is in the middle of what Gartner calls "The Nexus of Forces”, and it is in the combination mobile, social, cloud and information innovation where new opportunities arise.
Mobile has undoubtedly shaken up information dissemination. Knowledge workers expect to be able to connect to systems from anywhere at anytime and get information in the context of their situation. Content, analytics, reporting, all can be delivered "mobile." The user experience has become more fluid, when working on data using various devices – users can start a process on a desktop computer, use a tablet in interacting with a customer, and take some notes on a smartphone.
“Information management has gone ‘cross-platform content delivery’, and this line of innovation hasn't ended yet. For example, mobile devices offer location-based context to select the right data, and augmented reality and mashups,” said Buytendijk. “However, mobile content delivery is only a part of the impact on information management. Mobile devices will develop to become a prime source of data collection.”
Business analytics are moving forward at an astonishing rate. Yet, analytics are not limited to business use only. Increasingly, analytics will become available for consumers too. One example of this is the use of graph analysis, which helps determining rich relationships between data elements.
Sentiment analysis is another popular application. It is mainly used to inform companies on how they are viewed in the market, or for the benefit of advertisers. In addition to simple use cases like repository access to documents, many enterprise content management (ECM) vendors are developing interfaces for more specific use cases, such as participation in content review and approval processes; exception handling; camera-image and bar-code inputs; case management system interfaces; and the ability to maintain presence awareness of mobile users in an ECM system.
Cloud computing was first positioned as a way of turning capital expenses into operational expenses, while saving on cost of ownership and helping to grow a more scalable and agile information infrastructure. Then cloud started to support other styles of working, such as multi-tenancy which appeals to public sector organizations which are not competitive. They can use the same applications and information creating business processes and information sharing across organizational borders. Now, there are also examples of "information as a service," where applications can call other applications in the cloud to perform a task or deliver a crucial bit of information.
Turning that principle around, and allowing information to flow — albeit under certain conditions - cloud would turn into a "Bank of Information." “If we allow others to access some of our information, we receive interest,” Buytendijk said. “We get other information back, or more metadata on the use of our information by others. If we use information we don't own, we pay interest in the same way. In this way, exchange rates could develop, based on exchanging information.”
“The underlying message of all these examples is that information is an asset in its own right. It has value. Gartner calls this emerging discipline of valuating information "Infonomics.It is not something of the far future, in fact, this is happening today in various industries, in commerce and public sector, in large and small enterprises.”
However, Buytendijk underlined the fact that as exciting as all new business opportunities are, there are also reasons for concern. Concerning the ethics of Big Data, a recent Gartner Circle study showed that "governance and privacy" was the most important concern around Big Data – clearly there is a fine line between superior customer insight and being "creepy."
Similarly, from a technology point of view, managing information in the enterprise is a far from trivial matter. There is significant diversity in terms of the type of information, the use cases and the technologies involved. Furthermore, information and process are spilling over. These used to be fairly separate categories in IT, but now analytics and content are front and center in business processes. As a result, just as the finance organization manages money, and HR is responsible for intellectual capital, a new information organization may emerge, outside of IT, led by the Chief Data Officer (CDO). Gartner estimates that there are currently about 50 established CDOs out there already and expects this to grow to 20 percent of enterprises worldwide.