But this year, with the barriers to adoption increasingly being addressed, the big data market is poised for accelerated growth and SMEs should not miss out on the party.Nobody can dispute the huge potential of the big data market. There is more and more data out there, it is getting more diverse and it is growing fast. Technology community, Wikibon predicts that the big data market is currently on pace to top £30bn in 2017, which translates to a 38 per cent compound annual growth rate over the six-year period from 2011 onwards. In reality though, the market remains in its infancy. Most organisations are still doing proof-of-concepts. Very few so far have moved outside the sandbox and into productive use cases. Unfortunately, many businesses have still not taken practical steps to rollout a big data strategy. Just ten per cent of respondents to a recent Talend survey were actually engaged in a large scale rollout, up from two per cent the year before – but still a low number. And it is likely that most of those that have rolled out a strategy, are large enterprises with big budgets and extensive resources. Two of the top three constraints identified in our survey were budgetary restrictions and skills shortages, widely recognised as key barriers to any IT endeavour and areas of particular concern for SMEs and start-ups. The potential scale of most big data projects explains the financial concerns. Also, skills are key because big data requires people to be able to integrate any number of large and inflexible disparate data sources and skilled data scientists to analyse the collective data streams. It would be a challenge for any organisation to overcome, but especially for small businesses with limited resources. The good news is that these issues are now being addressed. Big data projects no longer need to come with a massive price-tag. The latest data processing tools allow data to be integrated and analysed quickly and cost-effectively without the need for specialist hardware devices, thereby significantly cutting costs. We are also now seeing the emergence of open source approaches that can exploit the scalability and fast processing speeds of the latest big data technologies. These new techniques allow companies to move away from the restrictions imposed by proprietary models and eliminate the need to look for help from specialist data scientists that are typically both expensive and in short supply. So with the barriers to big data increasingly being broken down and more businesses experimenting with or trialling the technology over the past year or so, it feels like a watershed moment for the big data market.
Getting a slice of the pieIn 2014, we are already seeing more companies ‘getting their feet wet’ with big data but we will also increasingly see the big data trials across 2013 bearing fruit now, entering into mainstream adoption. Technology platforms are available that are helping organisations’ big data investments to scale quickly and ultimately, to get results faster from their big data implementations. We expect many of these companies to be small businesses. As the Aberdeen Group recently identified in its research entitled, Big Data for Small Budgets, “the big aspect of big data is often in the eye of the beholder; for smaller companies, terabytes or even gigabytes of data can pose the same problems and opportunities that petabytes do for global enterprises.” Big data is as relevant to small businesses as it is to larger enterprises. In the past, SMEs may have been deterred from implementing the technology due to the perception that it was too expensive. Today, as the big data market matures, this situation is changing fast. 2014 looks set to be the year that big data finally comes of age and small businesses look set to play a key role in making it happen. Yves de Montcheuil is VP of Marketing at Talend. Image source
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