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New productSpeaking at Telco Cloud, Actian’s CTO Michael Hoskins outlined the impact big data is having on the business world, and the challenges which are being faced by those who are not keeping up with the explosion of data now available to decision makers.

The growth of IoT and the subsequent increase is data has been widely reported. Last year, Gartner predicted the number of connected ‘things’ would exceed 6.4 billion by the end of 2016 (an increase of 22% from 2015), and continue to grow to beyond 20.8 billion by 2020. While IoT is a lucrative industry, businesses are now facing the task of not only managing the data, but gaining insight from such a vast pool of unstructured information.

“Getting a greater understanding of your business is the promise of big data,” said Hoskins. “You can see things which you never were able to before, and it’s taking business opportunities to the next generation. The cloud is really changing the way in which we think about business models – it enables not only for you to understand what you are doing within your business, but the industry on the whole. You gain insight into areas which you never perceived before.”

Actian is one of a number of companies who are seemingly capitalizing on not only the growth of IoT and big data, but also the fact it has been rationalized by decision makers within enterprise as a means to develop new opportunities. The company has been building its presence in the big data arena for five years, and has invested more than $300m in growing organically, as well as acquiring new technology capabilities and expertise externally. As Hoskins highlighted to the audience, big data is big business for Actian.

Actian - Mike Hoskins

Actian’s CTO Michael Hoskins

But what are the challenges which the industry is now facing? According to Hoskins, the majority of us don’t have the right tools to fully realize the potential of big data as a business influencer.

“The data explosion which is hitting us is so violent, it’s disrupting the industry. It’s like two continents splitting apart,” said Hoskins. “On one continent we have the traditional tools, and on the other we have the new breed of advanced analytics software. The new tools are drifting away from the traditional, and the companies who are using the traditional are being left behind.”

Data analytics as a business practise is by no means a new concept, but the sheer volume, variety and speed at which data is being collected means traditional technologies to analyse this data are being made redundant. Hoskins highlighted they’re too slow (they can’t keep up with the velocity of collection), they’re too rigid (they can’t comprehend the variety of data sets), and they’re too cumbersome (they can’t manage the sheer volume of data). In short, these tools are straining under the swell.

The next challenge is scaling current technologies to meet the demands, which leaves most cases is a very difficult proposition. It’s often too short-term, too expensive and the skills aren’t abundant enough. Hoskins believes the time-cost-value proposition simply does not make sense.

“The journey of modernization goes from traditional, linear tools, through to business intelligence and discovery, this is where we are now, through to decision science,” said Hoskins. “Traditional tools enable us to look back at what we’ve done and make reactive decisions, but businesses now want to have a forward looking analytics model, drawing out new insights to inform decision making. But this cannot be done with traditional tools.

“This is the promise of advanced analytics. The final stage is where we can use data analytics to inform business decisions; this is where data becomes intelligence.”

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