Why big data is an analyst-invented buzzword

SAN FRANCISCO – We’re hearing a lot these days about big data, including at analytics software vendor’s SAS Institute’s annual SAS Executive Forum conference. However, SAS CEO Jim Goodnight doesn’t think much of the hype.

“We were there before the term was invented,” said Goodnight, during an interview with IT World Canada at the conference. “The reason we’re all talking about big data is because some analyst made all the money they could off of cloud, and they had to move on to the next buzzword. It was data warehousing, and then software as a service, and then cloud computing, and everyone put their money into cloud startups until it was time to change the topic.”
Jim Goodnight, president and CEO of SAS (photo by Jeff Jedras)
Which isn’t to say SAS is displeased with all the hype that is being generated around big data.

“It’s helpful; it doesn’t hinder,” said Goodnight. “It opens up conversations because people are reading coverage not just in technical magazines, but in business magazines. You’ve got people that don’t know what it is, but they know they need to care about it.”


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Once they help a client cut through all the differing definitions and the noise, SAS senior vice-president and CMO Jim Davis told IT World Canada that companies are becoming aware that predictive analytics can make a real difference to their businesses.

“Companies that are doing well with analytics aren’t looking at it as architecture, they’re looking at it as, ‘How do I solve the business problems I have, whether it’s fraud, risk or marketing optimization,’” said Davis.

As vendors such as SAS offer new delivery models for analytics, such as hosted or cloud-based, it’s becoming more common for departments such as marketing to take the lead on a predictive analytics implementation. If companies want to avoid the creation of silos, though, SAS said it’s important for IT departments to take the lead.

“IT needs to take the lead in making sure the company as a whole has a data strategy, so stuff doesn’t just keep popping up everywhere,” said Goodnight. “They need to work with the different departments to come up with an approach for buying hardware.”

While hosted deployments are an option, Goodnight recommends a careful consideration of how much you plan to use the solution. If you have your own data centre and IT staff, an on premise or private cloud scenario could make more sense than hosted, noting with moderate usage the hardware can pay for itself in six months. It’s considerations such as this that necessitate IT leading a corporate-wide data governance strategy.

“If you’re going to be using it a lot, it’s cheaper just to buy it yourself,” said Goodnight.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
As an assistant editor at IT World Canada, Jeff Jedras contributes primarily to CDN and ITBusiness.ca, covering the reseller channel and the small and medium-sized business space.

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