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'Big data' technologies glimmer in the spotlight, but is it deserved?

"Big data" continues to make headlines as vendors announce new products for managing and analyzing it. You’re not alone, though, if you have yet to jump on the big data bandwagon.

It’s no surprise that “big data” is still making headlines as the first two months of 2012 draw to a close. Vendors continue to announce new or updated big data technologies while highlighting their strategies for taking on what has occasionally been referred to as a data glut.

And young, niche players are emerging with new, shiny objects to tempt users with. One such example is Recorded Future, which offers a subscription-based service that provides businesses with “temporal analytics” capabilities. The company’s executives say that the technology sifts through, categorizes and timestamps 100,000 Web pages per hour in an effort to analyze Internet data and uncover patterns for predictive insight.

Despite all the product rollouts, though, a report published in January by San Ramon, Calif.-based Ventana Research says that most organizations aren’t biting on big data technology just yet. According to Ventana’s David Menninger, author of The Challenge of Big Data, 89% of the 163 respondents to a survey conducted last year reported that the relational database was their primary large-scale data mechanism. “Organizations have to cross some sort of threshold before those relational databases are not sufficient,” Menninger said.

Listening to the glittering descriptions of the latest big data tools could lead anyone to believe that harnessing big data is a confounding problem all businesses are or will soon be facing. But is that true? Not according to attendees at The Data Warehousing Institute’s Business Intelligence Executive Summit, held in Las Vegas in mid-February. Some questioned the relationship between big data and the size of an organization, while others doubted whether social media data could even be used in certain industries, such as finance.

Where do you stand on the big data debate? Are you working with big data or thinking about doing so -- or do you believe it’s been overblown? Email me and let me know.

Twitter: @BizAnalytics_TT

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