To B or Not to B. Scary, Right?

Arun Gupta, CIO at Cipla shares his take on big data and the hype surrounding this debated technology trend and the dilemmas CIOs face

If you look at the evolution of big data-who is talking about it? It’s the vendors and consultants, the big internet companies, social media companies where data volume is thousand-fold higher in creation and analysis-these are the ones who have been espousing the benefits.

Let me ask a simple question. How many corporates have gone beyond anecdotal references or possible pilots which can be classified as ‘really big data issues? The answer often times a cliched ‘it depends’.

Sure I agree that data volume is expanding rapidly in every enterprise, but are the dimensions anywhere close to big data requirements? For instance, data created on Facebook in a day would probably be more than the data volume generated in a large $20 bn enterprise in a year.

CIOs are worrying about expanding storage needs that never seem to be adequate; they are likely to be facing challenges in setting
up 100 TB every month or quarter or year.

I recall a leading market research report sometime back that said: “Because of lack of information, processes and tools through 2012, almost in excess of 35% of the top 5,000 global companies will regularly fail to make insightful decisions about significant changes in their business and markets. And now big data adds to the challenge.”

Sounds scary. But when consultants present slides that are highly populated with elements and complicated numbers on the use case scenarios on big data-even if the CIO and his team had understood it, how do they translate this into business terms that can be explained to the CMO or CEO? Where is the empirical model for RoI?

There are many examples being floated on how retailers can use big data to understand customers better and then improve upon revenues. “I am unable to find a retailer who was able to get there. These propositions are all hypothesis of what can be done, no real business problems have been solved as yet and neither have any companies found real use. Because big data is all about unstructured data while structured data has models to massage them and generate conventional wisdom.”

Moreover with budgets under continuous pressure and discussions on new projects getting rigorous, large investments in big data in the corporate world, according to me, is still a long way off unless someone comes up with a model to pay-per-outcome and is willing to wait until the result is achieved.

So the bottom line is a well-defined clear RoI deliverable.This is the key and until and unless there is a clear case of higher RoI out of big data, it will remain one of the challenges for both CIOs as well as vendors. To sum up, conventional organizations have thus far watched from a distance the big data (r)evolution!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *