Cisco Canada Blog

Are businesses ready for the data avalanche?

April 5, 2013

With millions of smartphones, sensors, video cameras, smart meters and other devices connected to the Internet, the increasingly enormous amounts of data being generated can be overwhelming. While this “data avalanche” can present a potential abundance of insights and opportunities to create business value, it is not without its challenges.

The third chapter of this year’s Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR) surveyed 1,800 IT professionals working in different industries to look at the challenges, IT readiness and strategic value of implementing Big Data projects. “Big Data” refers to the gathering of very large amounts of data, and capturing “real-time” data created by sensors, monitors, and Internet Protocol (IP) connected devices. This data is then analyzed to find patterns and new solutions, turning raw data into strategic information.

The study showed that 49% of Canadian respondents think that Big Data can indeed improve decision making and competitiveness but that security, lack of budget and network readiness were areas of concern. Only one in three Canadian respondents say their network is ready for increased amounts of data, and that additional network bandwidth, security and improved IT policies are needed to accommodate the growth in data. Additionally, almost half of those surveyed said that all or some Big Data projects would require cloud computing, meaning that cloud adoption may impact the rate of adoption and benefits of Big Data efforts.

So how are these findings relevant to Canada? Since 68% of Canadian respondents believe that Information Technology departments will be the main drivers of their Big Data strategies, this presents an opportunity for IT to add value, create relationships across lines of business that contribute to the bottom line and increase revenue. Given the need for special skill sets to deal with Big Data, this will also give IT the opportunity to increase staff and create new jobs, such as the “data scientist”, whose job is to find patterns and connections in the large amounts of data, present it in a creative way to business leaders and give insight and suggestions on business impact.

The data avalanche, at times, can indeed be slightly disconcerting and intimidating. However, once we begin to adopt new operational policies, hire the right staff and learn how to accommodate the massive growth in data, there is great potential for Canadian businesses to use Big Data to their strategic advantage and create a wealth of opportunities.

Before I wrap up, I’d like to mention one more thing I found particularly interesting. The study refers to an important data source which Cisco refers to as “data in motion”. This data is delivered by devices, sensors, video and monitors and provides the most value while interacting in real-time, with the idea that having real-time intelligence is the key to responding to real-time events. For example, this can facilitate things like machine-to-machine communication in factory automation and remote patient monitoring in a healthcare setting. So far, this data source has been mainly untapped. Just think of what we’ll be able to do once more businesses begin to make use of this.

Is your business using Big Data to its advantage? If so, how? Tell us in the comments section below.

The full CCWTR can be viewed here

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