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Analysts Keep Saying Big Data Is So Over

Tech analysts keep saying this Big Data thing is over, meaningless, but is anyone listening?

The cries to move on are getting almost plaintive. "Join us in the revolution!" said Forrester Research analyst Brian Hopkins last week in calling for followers to forget Big Data and turn to an alternative approach he developed with fellow analyst Ted Schadler.

First introduced in April, it's called systems of insight, and it has to deal with the ability to actually derive and act upon business insights gleaned from analysis of data. Join the systems of insight camp and you'll beat those Jurassic Big Data boys.

"Ted and I agree that this trend is only just starting and the impact will be huge," Hopkins wrote in a blog post titled "'Big Data' Has Lost Its Zing -- Businesses Want Insight And Action" last week. "Insights masters who get this are going to spank firms that cling to Big Data and the 'data driven' mantra. Guarantee it."

Well, everybody wants zing, and nobody wants to get spanked by competitors, so supporters of the new movement are weighing in on Twitter with the Forrester-supplied hashtags #SystemsOfInsight and #InsightsToExecution.

Systems of Insight
[Click on image for larger view.] Systems of Insight (source: Forrester Research)

But, plaintive or not, the Forrester cries for change aren't resonating alone in the "Something Data" wilderness. Several analysts and experts told me Big Data was over last year.

Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg said he doesn't even like to use the term "Big Data."

"'Big Data' is going to disappear in the next two or three years and it's going to be called -- guess what? -- 'data,'" Feinberg told me. "Once every vendor has a Big Data something, it no longer gives me a way to distinguish one vendor from another."

David Torres, senior director of Data & Analytics at Avanade, which provides Microsoft-focused consulting services, echoed similar thoughts. "Beyond Big Data, it's really, in my opinion, it's all data," he said. "You need to have a strategy for all your data."

The nascent Big Data strategy, though perhaps just in the famed "trough of disillusionment" of the Gartner hype cycle, does seem to be letting organizations down, according to recent research.

Just a week after a report from Gartner found that investment in Hadoop-based Big Data technologies "remains tentative" with poor adoption rates, a recent survey from Software AG identified "a Big Data paralysis" that's keeping enterprises from realizing the promised benefits of the analytics craze.

"Despite substantial hype and reported successes for early adopters, over half of respondents (54 percent) report no plans to invest at this time," the Gartner report stated. "Additionally, only 18 percent have plans to invest in Hadoop over the next two years."

"Challenges are holding organizations back from making the improvements that they need," the Software AG survey report said. "The majority of those surveyed report that their organization finds analyzing large amounts of data (73 percent) and acting on data in real-time (65 percent) as very real obstacles."

It's those exact challenges that Forrester analysts Hopkins and Schadler are trying to help enterprises overcome with their new systems of insight approach.

"Big Data isn't what it used to be," Hopkins said. "Not because firms are disillusioned with the technology, but rather because the term is no longer helpful." Companies have bought into the idea of big-scale analytics, he said, but that hasn't helped much in overcoming the challenges in using that analysis to support business decisions.

"Systems of insight are the business discipline and technology to harness insights and turn data into action," Hopkins said. "Systems of insight deliver what Big Data cannot -- effective action through insights-driven software; after all, that's the only thing firms really care about."

Hmm, "systems of insight." You know, I think that term has some real zing.

Posted by David Ramel on July 1, 2015