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Skeptics doubt the long-term value of the big data movement

Paul Newman Archive

Companies have been working for several years to gather more data about their consumers and leverage it into better business practices, but not all of them are seeing immediate results. Doubts have begun to creep in for some business leaders. They've spent a lot of money on ramping up their emphasis on big data - but is it worth it? How long will it take for their investments to pay off?

When the big data revolution first began to gather steam, it was fueled by an outpouring of optimism. Some time has passed, and the good feelings are now beginning to subside, according to AllThingsD. Big data expert Arik Hesseldahl believes that the hype has peaked, and people are now settling into a more realistic mindset with their data-driven expectations.

"As a useful technology, big data is, according to Gartner's reckoning, at or near the peak in the hype cycle, when expectations are inflated and out of sync with what is deliverable in reality," Hesseldahl stated. "Incidentally, Gartner has been making this case since last year. If it were to follow the typical trajectory, then, it implies that big data technologies are soon to be due for a fall into the 'trough of disillusionment.'"

Can more talent help?
One very reasonable explanation for corporate America's struggles with big data is that a new infusion of talent is needed to help businesses make more sense of the information in their databases. Collecting more knowledge can't be a bad thing, but if companies don't have enough talented people to help them analyze their data, it could represent a missed opportunity.

According to the latest "State of Business Intelligence" survey conducted by the Business Intelligence Congress, hiring managers everywhere are concerned about their ability to fill IT jobs, especially ones related to the data movement. When asked to identify their biggest needs, 35 percent included systems analysts, 32 percent said program developers, 30 percent data managers and 22 percent business analysts.

Companies that work with big data have a lot of obligations on their hands. They have a constant need to collect more information, maintain data quality and find effective ways to use all their knowledge. All of these endeavors are new and largely unexplored, and it takes time for businesses to find optimal approaches. It also takes talent. With more emphasis on recruiting good workers and developing new strategies, the data movement can move forward in the years ahead.

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