E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 1/13/2012 | 9 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
Big Data is a big issue in IT, but is it time to invest in the tools and infrastructure to deal with big data as a unique enterprise asset? It's a question many CIOs are wrestling with, and one that we attacked in the latest E2 Great Debate: Invest Big in Big Data.

The debate, between Tony Hamilton, enterprise marketing manager for Intel Data Center and Connected Systems Group, and Thomas Redman, founder of Navesink Consulting, was lively, enthusiastic, and informed by decades of enterprise IT experience. The chat that began before the debate and continued through and beyond the debate itself was free-wheeling and passionate on many aspects of the topic. In the end, the result was a community with far more knowledge and perspective on big data than had been the case an hour before.

Before we get to revealing winners and losers (OK, to be honest there are no losers in a debate like this: everyone learns a lot and we all walk away as friendly colleagues), let's look at some of the things we learned.

Tony came to the debate from the "pro" position, arguing that the time is right to begin investing in big data as a unique enterprise asset. Thomas took the "con" position, arguing that, while big data may be an important enterprise asset, companies should be investing in data handling and analysis basics before leaping on to the big-data-specific bandwagon. In many aspects the two agreed with one another, neither arguing that big data isn't important or that companies need to establish, learn, and follow established business intelligence procedures. On a couple of areas, though, there was a significant difference of opinion.

Thomas argued that the benefits of investing money specifically for big data don't outweight the benefits of spending the same money on "data basics," building a successful data analysis and business intelligence function that works across all aspects and types of data held by the enterprise.

Tony's position was, in some ways, more optimistic, assuming that the basics in the enterprise have been sufficiently covered to allow highly profitable investment in a new entity called "Big Data." The differences were important, yet carefully nuanced, and E2 Platinum Member Rowan summed up the debate with:

    While this was framed as a pro/con debate, I more got the feeling that it was really a more similar discussion about being careful or not. The answer that seemed to be synthesized was that if your company is being careful, expanding data operations, but if you had room to make that expansion, it's probably a good thing.

What did the community learn? E2 editor in chief Sara Peters found three key lessons:

    So, let me synthesize what I've learned today -- Tom and Tony let me know if you disagree. It sounds like the first place to start with any big data project is to #1 Talk to your business leaders about what INSIGHTS they want to actually squeeze out of all this data, #2 Make a strategy to deliver those insights, #3 Establish the right processes and purchase the right tools to make sure that you're collecting VALUABLE data and keeping it SECURE... how am I doin'?

The consensus of the community was that she had done just fine.

After all the talk and chat, who won? The E2 community said that the "pro" side was the more compelling argument. The margin was decisive, 70 percent to 30 percent, a ratio that remained consistent throughout most of the voting cycle. In truth, this was an acknowledgment that big data is here to stay, and that companies must begin investing today if they're not going to lose a competitive advantage. It's the optimistic move to make.

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David Wagner   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/18/2012 2:09:33 PM
Re: Re : E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!
@zerox203- Yes, you are right that "big data" is an easy target for jokes not only because of the size jokes, but also because it is hard to distinguish data from big data. I do think you are right that in the end that big data is just data, but right now the big data mindset is very different. We needed a new word to get people to understand that we mean a new kind of way of using data. "New data" might have worked except that just sounds like fresh data.

Words are surprisingly powerful. Think how long cloud computing existed under different names before cloud stuck and made the process more appealing. I think the same thing will be true of big data. It is the word that sticks for a new way to see data. And all the jokes won't stop the growth.
Gigi   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/17/2012 2:02:28 AM
Re: Re : E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!
Managing and processing big data is a cumulative process. When concern with storage, we can use some better tools for data optimization, but security concerns are critical. Because of this, most of the companies had started outsourcing the data storage and processing to third part experts. Data mining is going to a new sector for booming and expects a better growth rate in 2012.
Technocrat   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/16/2012 5:05:24 PM
Re: Re : E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!

@zerox203  Yes, it was a nice debate and I am one of those of the decenting opinion.  While there is little doubt companies need to address this situation soon or later, but I think the question was should companies be doing it now ? 

To that I say and agreed with Tom that it probably is not. I think what really swayed the argument for me was when Tom mentioned ( or someone on the boards...) that if companies are still have issues with the data they have now ( which they are ) then how do they expect to handle "Big Data" ?

I like your point as well, "Big Data" now will just be data again in a decade or so.

zerox203   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/16/2012 2:43:02 AM
Re: Re : E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!
Reading this, I'm sorry I missed the debate. This is an area where my knowledge is admittedly lacking. I should probably give the archive a listen, although it won't be the same as a live viewing.

In the not-so-distant future, what we call 'Big Data' will probably just be data again, and while the term is an easy target for jokes, there's a serious need for it right now. Even though it's tomorrow's everyday necessity, the issue comes down to whether or not, for your company, it is also today's. I'm glad the debate was taken in that direction, if a little surprised the answer came out such a strong 'yes'.

Da-11   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/15/2012 11:28:49 PM
squeez out the good stuff
" #1 Talk to your business leaders about what INSIGHTS they want to actually squeeze out of all this data, #2 Make a strategy to deliver those insights, #3 Establish the right processes and purchase the right tools to make sure that you're collecting VALUABLE data" As a user more so than an administrator, I'd have to agree with the stressing of these points; more often than not I've seen (used) data systems that seem to have potential fail because they deliver too much information I dont want and make it to difficult to get the information I do want.
Technocrat   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/14/2012 8:49:58 PM
Re: Big Data is not for Amateurs

That's funny and Great point David, for all the hoopla over Big Data, this issue represents probably one of the few great challenges we have left.


I don't think a home built server and "Hadoop for Dummies" guide will get it done.

aries   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/14/2012 12:34:57 PM
Re : E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!
thanks for his information. This is very useful for us all
SunitaT   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/14/2012 2:45:35 AM
Re : E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!
@Curtis, thanks for summarizing the debate. It was very informative debate, thank you again for hosting that debate.
David Wagner   E2 Great Debate Wrapup: Invest in Big Data Now!   1/13/2012 5:35:56 PM
Big Data is not for Amateurs
i think the great thing about this debate was that Tom's major point was that Big Data isn't just somehting you do. it is something you live. It isn't for amateurs. Even those that voted "yes," I think, took that to heart. It is great to be excited about the potential of big data, but i think now we know any fool with a Hadoop stack isn't going to make a big splash with big data.

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