Big data is big news lately, but not all IT professionals are clear on what the term means.
According to the results of a survey conducted by a log management firm LogLogic and IT research and consulting firm Echelon One, only 27 percent of the IT technology professionals polled by the companies have an understanding of what "Big Data" means. Despite this, 49 percent of them claim to be "somewhat" or "very concerned" by it.
Something isn't clicking. And it can spell trouble for companies in terms of both poor data management strategies and lost business opportunities.
The Big Data Disconnect
It helps to first come to grips with what the term Big Data means. Webopedia defines it as "a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large that it's difficult to process with traditional database and software techniques."
Apart from the technical struggles of storing, managing and analyzing ever-growing stores of data, Big Data poses a larger challenge for businesses: deriving value from it. A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute pointed to a huge economic incentive for unlocking Big Data's potential.
"For instance, if U.S. health care could use big data creatively and effectively to drive efficiency and quality, we estimate that the potential value from data in the sector could be more than $300 billion in value every year, two-thirds of which would be in the form of reducing national health care expenditures by about 8 percent," the report said.
However, realizing those gains will take a workforce that is trained to handle Big Data, and of course, technologies that are up to the task.
Perhaps IT administrators could come to grips with Big Data if they had the proper tech at their disposal. According to the survey, 59 percent of respondents "lack the tools required to manage data from their IT systems."
In a company statement, Echelon One founder and CEO Bob West weighed in on what it means for businesses. "It's fascinating to see the rift, and the overwhelming percentage of companies surveyed are not prepared to manage big data properly, monitor cloud environments effectively, or report network and device activities properly."
IT inefficiency and missing opportunities in the marketplace are bad enough, but failure to effectively manage Big Data could have other, more dire consequences. "These companies are leaving themselves exposed to attacks, making less-than-informed business decisions, and even risking fines from the federal regulatory agencies, for not complying with their requirements," West said.
The results stem from an independent online survey of 207 IT professionals, director level and above, across multiple industries including government, healthcare, media and manufacturing.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE