The rise of big data—a broad term that encompasses the mountain of information flowing into businesses—has posed particular challenges for organizations of all sizes, and investments in big data infrastructure and management is projected to drive $28 billion of worldwide IT spending in 2012, according to an Oct. 17 research report from IT analytics firm Gartner. That figure is expected to rise to $34 billion by 2013, according to the report, with 10 percent of new spending each year influenced by big data in some way.
The most significant impact big data currently has is in social network analysis and content analytics, representing 45 percent of new spending each year. Only $4.3 billion in software sales will be driven directly by demands for new big data functionality in 2012, while adapting traditional solutions to the demands of big data currently drive the majority of spending, the report noted. A dramatic increase in computing technology capacity has been a major contributor in the rise in big data spending, with the information reaped from social networks being a major factor.
"Despite the hype, big data is not a distinct, stand-alone market, but it represents an industry wide market force which must be addressed in products, practices and solution delivery," Mark Beyer, Gartner research vice president, said in a statement. "In 2011, big data formed a new driver in almost every category of IT spending. However, through 2018, big data requirements will gradually evolve from differentiation to 'table stakes' in information management practices and technology. By 2020, big data features and functionality will be non-differentiating and routinely expected from traditional enterprise vendors and part of their product offerings."
Big data spending is expected to evolve over the next seven years, with Gartner expecting leading organizations to begin to use their big data experience in an “almost embedded” form in their architectures and practices. By 2018, the report said big data solutions will be offering increasingly less of a distinct advantage over traditional solutions that have incorporated new features and functions to support greater agility when addressing volume, variety and velocity.
"Because big data's effects are pervasive, big data will evolve to become a standardized requirement in leading information architectural practices, forcing older practices and technology into early obsolescence," Beyer continued. "As a result, big data will once again become 'just data' by 2020 and architectural approaches, infrastructure and hardware/software that does not adapt to this 'new normal' will be retired. Organizations resisting this change will suffer severe economic impacts."
Despite the importance big data holds for businesses, an August report from Gartner indicated open data—the concept that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other forms of control—could prove to be even more critical. Access to, and use of, open data will be particularly important for businesses operating partly or completely on the Web. The report recommended organizations should focus on using open data to enhance business practices that generate growth and innovation.