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Businesses moved beyond big data hype in 2014

Big data has been hyped up for years, but this past year businesses started to move beyond all this hype to find ways to get real value out of the technology.

This past year was one in which businesses started moving beyond the big data hype to a point at which they now accept it as a standard part of their operations. The hype might still outpace the ability of the technology to deliver on expectations, but the number of businesses that are using analytics to drive decisions continues to grow.

Along the way, we saw a number of developments that changed the face of the technology market. Here's a look back at some of the most important transformations.

Vendors move to the cloud

Cloud-based analytics is nothing new, but 2014 saw the concept really take off, driven in large part by new offerings from prominent vendors. Salesforce made the biggest splash with its new sales analytics platform Wave, but Oracle, SAP and IBM's Watson group also delivered new cloud-based software.

The main hurdle that slowed adoption of cloud-based analytics software was getting data to the cloud, which can be a lengthy, resource-intensive process. But with more and more data being created in Web-based systems, this obstacle is becoming less of a challenge. For this reason, we are seeing renewed interest in analytics in the cloud, and with the slew of vendor announcements, it's clear that software companies are looking to capitalize.

Open source takes over analytics

Open source analytics technology enjoyed a major moment in 2014. The Spark Summit announced the arrival of a prominent big data platform into the mainstream. While Spark has been around for a couple years, this past year saw an unprecedented level of interest, and expectations are growing for the platform's ability to tie together numerous data stores and analytic applications, making it the latest hyped-up big data technology.

But Spark wasn't the whole story. The R programming language has always been popular in academic settings, but users started to find ways to incorporate it into commercial applications. Following the late 2013 release of Hadoop 2.0 and with it YARN, businesses directed even more resources to capitalize on the file system this year. With all the work that continues to be poured into these technologies, expect their profile to continue to rise in the year ahead.

Internet of Things shines bright on horizon

Although the Internet of Things (IoT) has significant implications for a number of IT disciplines, none may be more impacted than analytics. IoT represents a potentially significant source of data to run through analytic applications, which has some data scientists chomping at the bit.

But this enthusiasm doesn't mean IoT is necessarily ready for prime time when it comes to analytic uses. Not every business presents the right use case to take advantage of the technology, and investing heavily in a hot new technology that has limited utility could be a mistake. Expect vendors and users to continue looking for ways to make the most of the data in 2015.

Ed Burns is site editor of SearchBusinessAnalytics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter: @EdBurnsTT.

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