CompTIA Says Big Data Exceeding Expectations
Earlier this week, CompTIA published research based on the results of an online survey of 402 businesses and IT professionals conducted in September and October of this year (2015). A bit more than 70 percent of respondents indicated that they, or their employers, had initiated Big Data initiatives in the last year and that, by and large, the results had been sufficiently positive to "exceed expectations" established at the outset of those undertakings. If anyone has been awaiting more impetus to start digging into Big Data as a career-enhancing maneuver, this would appear to be it!
Sure, Big Data is a subject that has attracted lots of breathless hype and generated plenty of hyperbole — but it appears that the excitement is founded on something of real value: insight for companies that invest in the technology, and a better-than-hoped-for return on the investments of time, money, and expertise involved.
The real kicker for IT pros waffling on the "should-I-or-shouldn't I?" cusp of tackling learning and skills development in the Big Data realm is a snippet from CompTIA's press release that reads "more work must be done to harness and make use of data." To me, this indicates that there's plenty of unexercised opportunity in the Big Data arena still to be exploited. IT pros who take the time and energy to exercise their interest Big Data can still benefit from the ongoing and apparently unstoppable bonanza now underway.
Here are some more survey results to bolster this contention:
1. About 75 percent of organizations polled for this research state that their businesses would be stronger if they could harness all of their data holdings.
2. Roughly the same number believe they should be more aware of data privacy.
3. Just two percent fewer — 73 percent — feel they need and could benefit from better real-time analysis of that data.
Increasing importance of data is explained in a number of interesting statistics from the survey population:
1. 63 percent of organizations rely on data to drive day-to-day operations
2. 61 percent mentioned sensitivity regarding data privacy
3. 60 percent use their data to improve their understanding of customers' needs, wants, and behaviors
4. 59 percent use data to provide metrics surrounding business goals and objectives
5. 56 percent of respondents report that they store data outside the company's security perimeter
CompTIA sums up other findings as follows:
1. Companies see data of all types exploding in volume, with customer data, email, IM, log files, and documents in the lead on that front
2. 45 percent of companies report that the bulk of their data holdings are highly fragmented across multiple systems, applications, and databases; another 42 percent rate their fragmentation level as "moderate" instead.
CompTIA's Senior Director of Technology Analysis makes several recommendations as a result of this survey and its findings:
1. Organizations should take "measured steps" at each stage of data usage: collection and storage, processing and organization, and analysis and visualization.
2. A well-formulated data policy will enable organizations to better assess new data technology options, evaluate potential partner for data initiatives, and position themselves optimally to realize big data's awesome potential.
CompTIA also contends that hiring and retaining the right skills to exploit Big Data can be interesting: While half of companies surveyed report adequate levels of necessary skills and knowledge, the other half see gaps in areas that include real-time analytics, relational DBMS, and data security. This provides more focus on where IT pros should start sniffing around for skills development and job opportunities.
CompTIA further reports that organizations have shown real willingness to work with third parties on data initiatives, with over one-third of firms currently working with IT firms for data needs (though usually on pure technology plays such as storage and backup of data). The unexploited parts — data organization, processing, analysis and visualization — represent strong areas of potential growth for IT companies and consultants alike, where end-to-end services offerings are likely to become more prevalent and typical.
For those interested in pursuing Big Data certification, take a look at my Tom's IT Pro story Best Big Data Certifications for 2016, which provides pointers to five leading credentials in the field, with mentions of several more followers-on as well. This is clearly an area that's on its way up across all areas in IT, and one where career opportunities and longevity seem virtually guaranteed.