Defining Big Data is an ongoing sport for many of us in the industry. For me, it’s about the opportunity to do work and gain insights those traditional systems and data sources weren’t previously able to support. In the end it’s about innovation and insightful action… not really the size, speed or quantity of the data.

Traditional platforms struggle to keep up with the attributes of Big Data but it’s important to remember that Big Data isn’t really a new thing. In the past it was constrained by the workloads, slower less powerful technology, diverse data types and perhaps most importantly the economics of analyzing and managing massive amount of data. Early adapters needed federal grants to explore Big Data workloads and analytics, that’s no longer true today and it creates and opportunity for more companies to explore and adopt what was once impractical and too costly.

Reporters in the industry have painted a picture of Big Data that causes many companies to assume they are unable to take advantage of this technology or don’t qualify. Stories of mythical 500 petabyte Hadoop clusters often scare away the meek and conservative companies. The truth is that most Big Data environments are closer to 20 -100 terabytes in size. Many people assume that Big Data is only for the large enterprise firms with massive budgets and large IT teams.

Industry research into Big Data and analytics show a different picture and illustrates how mid-sized companies (500-5000 employees) are adopting and driving innovation with Big Data and analytics. Line of business professionals, analysts and report authors in mid-sized firms are consuming data and insights from Big Data projects and they are putting their budgets where their mouth is by becoming the sponsors as well. IT still plays a role in helping to deploy and manage and originate Big Data projects but more of the sponsorship is coming from specific areas within the business. Customer service, marketing, sales and finance are all popular sources for Big Data projects and budgets.

Research shows that mid-sized companies are as sophisticated as larger enterprise firms in how they deploy and utilize insights from Big Data projects. These companies are creating competitive advantage around market basket analysis, cross-sell, point of sale, customer care, segmentation and social brand analysis. The best part of the Big Data revolution is that it has democratized innovation around corporate data. Companies of any size can navigate a path to this “new” technology and leverage it for success. Bringing all of your data into an environment that moves at the speed of your business and creates actionable insights will sustain innovation and create a gap between you and your competition. Don’t allow the relative size of your company to hold you back from this success.

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