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Analytics Magazine

Inside Story: Big data, big deal

July/August 2011

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE DIGITAL VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE

Peter Horner, editor
horner@lionhrtpub.com

What a difference a few years make.

It wasn’t that long ago that business analysts and mathematical modelers were moaning about the lack of data with which to construct their models in order to better inform their decision-making clients. Now, the corporate world (and every other world you may live, work or play in) is overflowing with data, and the problem has done an 180-degree turn: Data is overwhelming our senses, and the question the corporate world is asking is: Where are we going to find enough qualified analysts to analyze all the data we’re generating and provide us with some real insight?

“Big Data” — the term du jour for extraordinary large data sets — has jumped to the top of the business analytics community’s lexicon, right up there with “cloud computing.” Everyone knows it and wants it, but they’re not exactly sure what to do about it.

Several contributors to this issue of Analytics approach the topic of “Big Data” from various angles, including college professor and analytics consultant Vijay Mehrotra (“Standardized analytical solutions”) and Terra Technology President and CEO Robert Byrne (“New math, big data”). Both authors reference a recent survey by McKinsey Global Institute that documents the enormous growth in enterprise data (an estimated 7 exabytes globally last year and growing exponentially) and a shortfall of 140,000 to 190,000 folks with “deep analytical skills” by 2018, not to mention a forecast of 1.5 million managers to “analyze big data and make decisions based on their findings.”

The McKinsey Report, must reading for any analyst, begins with a provocative proposal: “Analyzing large data sets — so called big data — will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation and consumer surplus as long as the right policies and enablers are in place.”

For more on the report and other recent developments that could rock your world, check out the Analytics website

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