Does big data have a big future?

The buzz around big data is growing bigger by the day. Carriers have found themselves confronted with a never-ending stream of market reports and conferences on the subject. There’s even a big data summit on its way.

It’s the, not just big, but huge potential of big data that has made it the hottest software trend of 2012. Using analytics, businesses are said to be able to tap into large volumes of internal and external data sets to help support decision-making, optimise operations and identify new areas of innovation.

Although still in its infancy, some of Europe’s largest operators, such as Vodafone, Telefónica and Orange, have already been using data analysis for several years to help improve their management decisions.

But experts are unanimous in their belief that operators can substantially increase their revenues and margins if they enhance the customer experience by using data analysis to improve internal processes. In fact, with traditional revenues under threat from over-the-top providers, big data could be the Holy Grail the industry has been looking for.

Big data is also becoming a seriously big business in its own right, with analyst firm Gartner suggesting that by 2015, 4.4 million IT jobs globally will be created to support big data. Data experts, it says, will become a scarce and valuable commodity. What experts don’t seem to agree on, however, is when the benefits of big data will arrive and how long it will stay around for.

Some say the era of big data is already here, pointing out that it will account for $28 billion of IT spend this year. Gartner goes as far as to claim that big data analytics will become such common practice by 2020 that the term will become obsolete.

Others, such as Juniper Networks, warn that many organisations are struggling to come to terms with the complexities of big data, questioning how networks already under strain from huge volumes of data, will be able to calculate insights in a meaningful way.

Either way, the big buzz around big data won’t be going away anytime soon.

Alex Hawkes, Editor