Finding an Entry Point to the Big Data Space

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hammervikBy Nancy Hammervik, Senior VP, Industry Relations, CompTIA

Most of us can agree that while holding the key to important data is valuable,

ultimately what really counts is what you do with that data. Big Data – defined as the volume, velocity and variety of data that exceeds an organization’s storage or capacity – can be considered both an opportunity and a challenge for IT solution providers.CompTIA’s Quick Start Guide to Easing into Big Data is a practical guide for solution providers seeking an entry point to the Big Data space that includes self-assessment questions, real-world business examples and a step-by-step guide to entering the Big Data market the right way.

“As expected for an emerging technology with an evolving definition, many executives are still moving along the Big Data learning curve,” said Tim Herbert, vice president, research, CompTIA. Accounts of large retailers, government agencies, healthcare providers, utility companies and other organizations doing impressive things with Big Data offer a glimpse of the potential of this trend. But the reality is that most organizations have far more basic data-related needs.

How Big is Big Data?

It’s not uncommon to see data described as the currency of the digital economy, but the real dollars are indeed staggering. Research consultancy IDC projects the Big Data market to grow nearly 32 percent annually, reaching $23.8 billion worldwide by 2016. In comparison, Gartner expects Big Data to drive $34 billion in IT spending in 2013, up from $28 billion in 2012.

As this space continues to emerge and the threshold for what constitutes Big Data varies from company to company, organizations of all types will seek ways to unlock additional value from the data most relevant to them. In many ways, Big Data has become a proxy for data initiatives in general. As such, the Big Data trend will present a range of direct and indirect business opportunities for IT channel partners with the right mix of technical skill and business savvy.

The Need for Data Analytics

While most businesses embrace a data-driven decision-making mindset, few are actually well positioned to do so. Even fewer can claim to be anywhere near the point of engaging in a Big Data initiative. “Not every business will need a Big Data strategy,” Herbert said. “But just about every business will need to effectively aggregate, store, manage and analyze the data they do have, regardless of its volume, velocity or variety.”

In fact, according to CompTIA’s Big Data Insights and Opportunities study, businesses are seeking improvement in these top five areas of data analytics:

  1. Real-time analysis of incoming data.
  2. Customer profiling and segmentation analysis.
  3. Email marketing campaign effectiveness.
  4. .Predictive analytics to forecast sales and other trends.
  5. Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

The fact is that the data and need for improvement is there. So, where do IT solution providers fit in? Generally, there are two types of roadmaps for firms seeking an entry point into the Big Data market: expansion within a segment of Big Data and expansion into an adjacent segment of Big Data.

Expansion within a Segment of Big Data

If you’re an IT solution provider with advanced skills in the areas of storage and data center management, expansion within this segment may entail developing expertise with data management architecture and database applications. This may include facilitating a data audit for a customer to establish on a data map, followed by strategies to address database silos. CompTIA research found that 67 percent of customers reported some degree of rogue data repositories within their organization, so a data audit is always a good first step. Additionally, you might consider adding on business continuity/disaster recovery services, which may be thought of as an indirect Big Data opportunity.

Expansion into an Adjacent Segment of Big Data

The same solution provider could also develop capabilities around data processing and aggregation, web analytics or social media analytics. In many situations, customers will attempt the DIY approach when it comes to web and social media analytics. Some will succeed, while others will struggle with integration or the need to aggregate different data sources and analyze them holistically all in real-time. IT solution providers able to develop data integration expertise will find themselves well positioned to win business.

Similar to varying entry points, there are also varying paths for moving up the Big Data ladder. Firms that have a solid foundation of skill and capacity can begin to explore a range of expansion options such as industry vertical specialization, emerging Big Data technologies expertise, planning and consulting and developing differentiators.

Due to the complexities associated with many aspects of Big Data, businesses will turn to outside experts for assistance in meeting their objectives. If you want to position your firm to win this new business, start by reading the complete Quick Start Guide to Easing into Big Data – CompTIA members can download the guide at no cost. Visit for additional resources.

Nancy Hammervik is senior vice president of industry relations at CompTIA.