Big Data or Big Disappointment? Experts Debate Hype Versus Reality
A panel of experts agree that big data has fantastic potential, but successes, at least at this point, are often hit or miss.SAN FRANCISCO—The promise of big data is that IT and C-suite executives will gain profit-driving business insights from the latest analytics tools that sift through gigabytes and terabytes of corporate data. From customers' buying habits to medical research, companies and institutions have far more data on what people are buying, searching for and chatting about online than at any time in history. The challenge, as detailed by panelists here Jan. 28 at a Dell-sponsored event, is finding the right set of data that will deliver useful insights. "Big data is an umbrella term for technology that gets you access to huge sets of data quickly for purposes you couldn't imagine doing before because it wasn't affordable. That's changed," IDC analyst Carl Olofson told eWEEK. "But if you don't know what you're doing, big data has limited value, and I've seen it play out that way in some cases."
That said, Olofson believes big data solutions have proved useful to, for example, retailers. He gives an example of a company that sees a lot of interest in shoes it's selling online, as the pageviews are off the charts, but buyers aren't clicking through to purchase in any great numbers.